The New York Mets signing Yoenis Cespedes didn’t just open up a clog in the free agency market now that the #1 player is off of it, it also means that Jay Bruce is probably on his way out via trade.
The Mets said yes to the $13 million option on Bruce’s 2017 season, the last on his contract, but the problem of fitting him and Cespedes in the same lineup is too much of a problem for them. The Cincinnati Reds struggled moving Bruce until he had a strong first half to the 2016 season, but Bruce was disappointing in his 50 games for the Mets, batting just .219 and hitting 8 home runs. With the Reds, he batted .265 in 2016, hitting 25 home runs in 97 games.
One team that has shown interest in Bruce are the Toronto Blue Jays, who need to fill both of their corner outfield positions if Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders both walk in free agency. Bruce provides power, although he’s never played in the American League, and his defense is passable. The Mets gave up a minor leaguer and Dilson Herrera for Bruce in August, but aren’t likely to look for too much in return so they can make things a little bit less crowded in the outfield for Cespedes sake.
Right now the interest from the Blue Jays is lukewarm, preferring to see how things work out with Encarnacion, Bautista, Saunder and Dexter Fowler among their other needs. But Bruce comes at a very reasonable price considering his capabilities, and there’s always the option of using him as a Designated hitter, something the Mets would have loved to do, but can’t until historic rules are changed.