The drama in the Mets’ outfield continues as we wait on Cespedes’ decision. Unfortunately, he isn’t the only outfielder owners should be keeping a eye on.
It goes without saying, New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce probably isn’t the guy you want to build your fantasy team around. The 29-year-old slugger is still young enough to put up the numbers, they just aren’t the ones you want.
Last season was a pretty good year for Bruce, if we want to be generous. When he was still in Cincinnati, Bruce hit 25 home runs in a ballpark that made him a star. Bruce was the power guy you needed in your lineup if you lacked home runs. It was easy to overlook his weak on-base percentage and high strikeouts so long as he was hitting balls over the wall.
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Then the trade to the big smoke came along, and Bruce’s value went south quickly. He sputtered to the finish line with the Mets, and managed only eight homers and a .219 average.
If Bruce stayed in Cincinnati, perhaps owners would be feeling a lot more confident about his potential for a big year next season. The way I see it though, there’s only two real options if you have shares in Bruce:
Bruce is traded, and he suddenly returns to potential All Star form.
Bruce stays in New York, and you hold on for dear life.
Toronto Blue Jays
If Bruce is traded, the Blue Jays easily lead the chase. The futures of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are in just as much doubt as Cespedes’, leaving the Jays with a lot less power and an unhealthy reliance on Melvin Upton Jr. in the outfield.
Should Bruce wind up in Toronto, it will probably be a good thing for all concerned. Playing in a dome at Rogers Centre means Bruce’s powerful swing is likely to pay home run dividends, and it will provide owners with the DH option alongside the newly acquired Kendrys Morales. As a lefty who hits plenty good against righties, Bruce’s chances of flourishing in Toronto are high, even if it’s in a platoon role or otherwise.
The Phillies are coming hard and fast. Their young roster is likely to make a name for itself next season, but it does need a wily veteran to steer course with some leadership. The Phillies have been missing the production Ryan Howard used to give them (pre 2015), and after declining his option for 2017, Bruce makes sense.
Just like Rogers Centre, Bruce also makes sense for fantasy owners if he winds up in Philadelphia, as Citizens Bank Park hosts some pretty favorable outfield dimensions. The most enticing thing for the Phillies is Bruce’s low price tag and the opportunity to sign him to a one year deal.
The most enticing thing for fantasy players is if Bruce winds up in Philly and performs above expectations, continuing his career as a Philly could pay off with some valuable power numbers down the stretch.
Los Angeles Dodgers
A spanner in the works? It’s definitely the Dodgers. At this point, Bruce could pretty much go anywhere, but the Dodgers have some outfield concerns of their own to address. Yasiel Puig has turned into a nightmare, and the production Dave Roberts received out of trade piece Josh Reddick has been disappointing.
The Dodgers were originally interested in Bruce back in July, and came close to signing him. Given Los Angeles’ outfield problems during the playoffs, Bruce could add some stability to the lineup, even though he isn’t the most agile guy defensively.
If Bruce was to don Dodger blue, it is possible fantasy owners could see a spike in his RBI numbers, another way the Dodgers could solve their problem of leaving men on base in scoring situations during the postseason.
Jay Bruce Stays in New York
The final scenario for Bruce is he stays. Cespedes walks and agrees to some ungodly number elsewhere, and the Mets are left with an outfield that could potentially feature Bruce, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares. Not bad, right?
For the Mets’ management, that works perfectly fine. For Bruce fantasy owners who still have an outfield spot occupied by the 29-year old, you’re in bad shape.
If you haven’t figured out by now: Bruce is good for only one thing, home runs, and he not hitting them at Citi Field. The most valuable outfielders in fantasy these days need to be a hybrid mix and match of home runs, OBP, and most importantly, steals. Bruce doesn’t check any of those boxes, and he never will.
So what can you look forward to if Bruce remains in the Big Apple?
Probably not much. He could find himself in a platoon role if he doesn’t perform. If the Mets do decide to pursue someone like Dexter Fowler, Bruce could miss days in the lineup if they don’t find a suitable trade partner. Oh, guys like Lagares and Granderson also offer everything Bruce does, so there’s it’s not like the Mets are handcuffed to starting him everyday.
Simply, Bruce may be good for another handful of home runs, say 25, but you’ll be in for another long year of frustration as he stands in the outfield catching routine fly balls, and posting a batting average that will make you want to rip your hair out.