New York Mets Acquire Jay Bruce
The New York Mets were active at the trade deadline once again this year, as they struck a trade for Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. Bruce, who leads the league in RBIs, should provide the Mets with the big bat that they’ve been craving all season. While the team ultimately fell short in the Jonathan Lucroy sweepstakes, Jay Bruce is a nice consolation prize to plug into the middle of their lineup.
In return, the Reds received 22-year-old second baseman Dilson Herrera, along with Max Wotell, the third round pick for the Mets in the 2015 draft. It had initially been reported that the package going to Cincinnati would be Brandon Nimmo plus two lower level prospects, but something in the medical records scared the Reds off, so the two teams agreed to this deal just prior to the deadline.
Why the Mets made this trade
First things first, the Mets offense looks a lot like it did at this point in time last season. Aside for a few players, including Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, the offense has basically been anemic, so they needed to add a spark to the middle of the order. While it seems that Bruce wasn’t their top target on deadline day, the team must be more than happy with the acquisition of the veteran outfielder.
Bruce, who has a team option on his contract at $13 million for next season, will be insurance in the outfield in case Cespedes decides to sign elsewhere after this season. Bruce should provide plenty of offense for the Mets, but one can’t help but wonder how this is going to impact their defense. The team’s defense has been just short of a dumpster fire this season, that is no secret. Curtis Granderson, the team’s right fielder before the Bruce trade, has been one of the only bright spots on the defense this season.
With the acquisition of Bruce, Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Cespedes (when healthy) will share time in center field, which is a defensive liability. Bruce, according to defensive metrics, has been the worst defensive starting outfield in baseball this season, so you can imagine that the numbers aren’t too kind to the Mets once you add Bruce into the equation.
The good thing for the Mets, however, is that they aren’t acquiring Bruce for his defense. They’re aware what the numbers say, and they don’t seem to care. What they care about is scoring runs, and Jay Bruce knows how to produce them. The Mets have been baseball’s worst offense this season, so the hope here is that Bruce can provide a much-needed charge in the lineup. The Mets are also baseball’s worst team with runners in scoring position, which just so happens to be a category that Bruce is dominating this season, hitting eight home runs with a .360 average and 52 RBI.
Why the Reds made this trade
It’s no secret that the Reds are a rebuilding team, and the fact that they still had Bruce on the roster this season made a lot of people scratch their heads. If you remember correctly, the Mets were set to acquire Bruce last season, but the deal ultimately fell through. The same thing happened this offseason as well, when Bruce was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays, only to see the deal fall through when one of the minor leaguers the Reds were getting in return failed his physical. It’s no secret that they wanted to move Bruce; they just didn’t have much success trying to do so up until this point. With this trade, the Reds are hoping that they have their second baseman of the future, and he will take Bruce’s spot on the 40-man roster.
Along with the prospects they are getting in return, the Reds also get salary relief as well. They’re off the hook now for over $4 million this season, along with the $13 million that is owed to him next season. While it’s clearly not a salary dump, it’s hard to imagine that those figures weren’t at least a motivating factor for the team to make the trade. No matter what, the trade further indicates the direction in which the Reds have been moving over the past year, and it should set them up nicely for the future.
Herrera slashed .276/.327/.462 with 13 home runs in Triple-A this season, though he struggled in his stint with the big league club this year, hitting .211 with three home runs. Luckily, Herrera is going to get an extended look with the Reds, with nobody blocking his development. The other piece the Reds received in the trade, 19-year-old Max Wotell. The young lefty is 3-1 this season with a 3.94 ERA in rookie ball.
It’s hard to part with a player that’s been with your franchise as long as Bruce had, but the Reds realized there was no value in keeping him on the roster anymore. Though it seems like he just recently came into the league, Bruce is now 29-years-old, so he doesn’t qualify in the long term plans for a rebuilding ball club.