The Toronto Blue Jays are putting their outfield needs on top of their priority list. One of the options to fulfill that need is Jay Bruce of the New York Mets, hence the trade talk between the ball clubs.
The Blue Jays need players who can drive in runs, as they’re at risk of losing Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the same free agency window. They’re looking at free agency options while hoping to retain at least one of them (probably Encarnacion, although there’s huge demand for him). But there are trade options as well and Bruce, who was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Mets midway through last season, is one of the better ones.
Bruce didn’t hit as well in New York as he did in Cincinnati, but the Mets were pleased enough to opt into the $13 million option for 2017. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. Bruce is 29, and overall hit 33 home runs while batting .265, including a career best .875 OPS. He made the All-Star game for the first time since 2012, his defense at right field was passable, and he brought back plenty of value to his name and deal after a couple of rough seasons.
With Bruce making only $13 million compared to the numbers he gives (at least in the National League), it might not be that difficult for the Blue Jays to reel him in. The Mets probably won’t ask for too much in order to give him up but as mentioned above, the Blue Jays are looking into the open market for options to fill their need of a lefty hitter in the outfield.
One of those options is Josh Reddick, who was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Reddick was terrific for Oakland but not so much in LA (overall hit 10 home runs, batting .281, had a .749 OPS). He played a bit better in the postseason and especially the NLCS against the Cubs (batting .364 against them), but failed to leave a mark with the Dodgers, and probably won’t be returning. Reddick is one of the top 5 outfield options among the free agents in a mostly underwhelming class, which should help the 29-year old make much more than the $6.75 million he made in 2016. However, his lack of power (.405 slugging in 2016) could put him near the bottom of some team’s outfield to-sign list.