The New York Mets still hope to trade outfielder Jay Bruce. However, his value on the market continues to sink.
When the New York Mets executed the Jay Bruce trade last summer they thought they were getting a power savior. It was a pretty reasonable expectation. Home runs have regularly been a big part of his game.
Unfortunately, Bruce had a notably slow start with the Mets. Only a strong finish saved this trade from becoming an all-time worst in the franchise’s history.
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Bruce’s season took a big turn when he joined the Mets. The year started great with the Cincinnati Reds as he managed to smack 25 home runs in his first 97 games. He’d hit only 8 more in 50 games with the Mets with just a .219 batting average. This poor performance, among other reasons, has led to New York shopping him in the offseason.
From the start, Bruce was not an ideal fit for the Mets. His presence forced Curtis Granderson into center field for the final two months of 2016. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes this offseason has offered no new solution as they now have three corner outfielders for two spots. They could certainly move Granderson back to center field again. However, this is far from ideal. The Mets’ defense would suffer too much by going this route.
It would appear the Mets have two solutions for their outfield: trade Bruce or Granderson. Neither looks too desirable. Bruce’s value, in particular, seems to have disappeared.
One of the biggest obstacles in succeeding with a Bruce trade is convincing teams that he has more to offer than the remaining free agent corner outfielders do. Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, and other similar sluggers remain unsigned. Why trade for Bruce when you can sign them for a longer or maybe even cheaper contract?
At this point, the Mets aren’t so much trying to trade Bruce as much as they are likely attempting to sell him. He won’t get them nearly the same return as they gave up in order to acquire him in the first place. Bruce cost them prospect Dilson Herrera whom they had high hopes for. The over saturated market of power hitting outfielders appears to have made it incredibly difficult for the Mets to get anything special in return for Bruce.
The second half of 2016 was not the first time Bruce struggled. In fact, he was quite terrible in 2014 and 2015. Bruce combined to slash .222/.288/.406 for the Reds in those two seasons. The lone saving grace was that he did hit 44 home runs.
Over the last three seasons, Bruce has been worth only 0.2 WAR. This is hardly notable. His -3.7 Defensive WAR is especially troublesome and continues to decline further to the point where we can expect a future at the DH spot for Bruce by 2018. His poor glove only further hurts his trade value as the limitations are a huge turnoff to many.
Bruce is not a trade candidate for teams looking to compete in 2017. He is now that guy teams like the Philadelphia Phillies want in order to flip him at the trade deadline should he produce. His sunken value won’t bounce up anytime soon, either.
The Mets will either need to trade Bruce in for spare parts or cross their fingers and hope they can somehow survive with a trio of corner outfielders. His trade value will only be saved by a great first half. If this were to happen, though, the only reason the Mets would have to trade him is if the team is struggling.