When the New York Mets tried to trade outfielder Jay Bruce this off-season, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly came the closest to acquiring his services.
According to new reports, the Philadelphia Phillies were the team that came the closest to acquiring Jay Bruce over the winter. Marc Carig of Newsday wrote that when the New York Mets tried to trade away the outfielder this past off-season, it was the rebuilding Phillies who made the most progress towards a deal – not the San Francisco Giants or Baltimore Orioles as some had previously pondered.
Although such a transaction seems dubious at first, it is worth remembering that Jay Bruce had just finished a rather unsuccessful half-season in New York. As Carig noted, the Phillies may have been looking to buy low on Bruce with the idea to flip him at the trade deadline. Ultimately, a deal failed to materialize, and the outfielder remained in New York.
Originally, the Mets acquired the slugger from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline last year in hopes that he could revive the team’s struggling offense. At the time, the move looked like a solid bet to provide production at a weak position for the Mets given that Bruce had recorded a .265 batting average with 25 dingers to that point.
Unfortunately for the team, the trade quickly soured. Over 50 games, the then 29-year-old had more strikeouts than hits and watched his power levels drop to some of his worst levels. Given that the Mets forfeited one of their best prospects, Dilson Herrera, in the deal, things looked grim and an angry fan base pushed for the team to rid themselves of the lefty.
Had the Philadelphia Phillies found a way to broker a deal, he probably would have taken Michael Saunders‘ spot in right field. Saunders, also a 30-year-old left-handed batter, rebounded last season with the Toronto Blue Jays and inked an $8 million, one-year contract with the Phillies in mid-January. Acquiring Bruce before then might have deterred the team from adding Saunders, especially since they are similar types of acquisitions.
Odds are that the Phillies will not contend in the National League East this year; although, they could make a bit of a push within a year or two. Adding a player with a decent upside would allow the team to appease fans in the meanwhile before flipping him for a mid-level prospect at the trade deadline.
Interestingly enough, Bruce has resurged this year while Saunders has regressed quite a bit. Of course, this comes with all the caveats typical of such a small sample size. Still, the role reversal is especially notable for the fans of the Mets. Just a few months ago they cried for his departure. Now, he is keeping their team afloat in the NL East.