Like many Met’s fans, I HATED Jay Bruce for most of August and September of 2016 until he made his miraculous turnaround. I was being impatient, I wanted to see results, but I can’t imagine it’s ever easy joining a new team, especially a New York team where the fans were expecting another Yoenis Cespedes. At the time though I didn’t even consider those factors. I just hated Jay Bruce and wanted him off the Mets forever. See the tweets below to see just how angry I was:
Fast forward to 2017 and Jay Bruce is suddenly my favorite player (But I still hate Jon Niese). When the trade deadline was over, I thought maybe, just maybe the Mets decided they were not going to trade away Bruce. But, I was wrong. On August 9th the Indians acquired Bruce off of waivers for some low level relief pitcher. I was heartbroken, it didn’t feel real. He was playing right under where I was sitting only 10 hours earlier. But, Jay Bruce was off to Cleveland to play for the contending Indians, taking with him 29 homers and 75 RBIs. Bruce showed up to Cleveland and showed them what he was made of. Finishing the 2017 season with 36 homers and 101 RBIs. He also had a pretty prominent role in the Indians post season performance as well. Hitting 2 homers, playing 5 games and going 5 for 18 at the plate.
The Mets were able to keep the outfield positions filled but not with the same power as Jay Bruce. And with Michael Conforto’s injury making a return by the beginning of the 2017 unlikely, the Mets are going to have to shop for another outfielder this off season. Bruce will be a free agent starting Monday and his name will more than likely be tossed around as someone to fill that void. The problem is that the Mets really need a center fielder more than a corner outfielder. They already have Cespedes who will cover Left Field and Brandon Nimmo who I would imagine could cover up Right Field until Conforto is back. Lagares is a great Center Fielder but his offense has never really been all the way there. There’s 1 Center Fielder free agent who sticks out above the rest and that’s Lorenzo Cain. In 2017, Cain hit 15 homers, 49 RBIs, 26 Stolen bases and finished the season with a .300 Batting Average. On paper, Cain sounds like a perfect fit for the Center Fielder position. But that brings us back to Right Field. Is Brandon Nimmo good enough to fill the spot? If they were to reunite with Bruce AND get Cain, they’d be spending A LOT of money and they’d also have 4 star outfielders when Conforto returns.
So it comes down to one or the other. Do you keep Lagares in Center Field and try to get Bruce? Or do you keep Nimmo in Right Field and try to sign Lorenzo Cain? In my opinion, the best bet for the Mets is to go ahead and get Bruce back. I understand that Bruce can be a streaky hitter and can get into some serious slumps, BUT he knows the team. And, you’d have to assume he’s somewhat familiar with the new Met’s manager Mickey Callaway who was the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. Bruce is loved by New York fans and again, he knows his teammates. Also, Brandon Nimmo could possibly fill in as a Center Fielder sometimes (although his defense won’t be nearly as good as former Gold Glover Lagares I’d imagine). This is all theoretical and there’s a lot of other routes the Mets could take. There are plenty of corner outfielders on the market that could possibly take over a role in center field.
Even though he’ll be 31 in April, and he has streaky hitter tendencies, I think bringing Bruce back to Queens is the best bet for the Mets. With free agency starting this Monday, it’ll be interesting to see what direction the Mets and Mr. Bruce decide to go in.