Bruce, 30 in April, was acquired by the Mets from the Reds in exchange for infielder Dilson Herrera at this past season’s non-waiver trade deadline to help bolster the team’s offense for the stretch run.
After getting off to a very slow start to his Mets career, Bruce picked it up the last couple weeks of the season, but still finished batting only .219/.294/.391 with eight homers and 19 runs batted in over 50 games played.
The plan this offseason had long been to trade Bruce for a quality bullpen piece or a couple prospects, but with the market slow to develop and a market for the long time Reds outfielder never taking off, the team finds themselves still with the outfielder and reporting to St. Lucie in approximately three weeks.
The negative side to keeping Bruce is the cramped outfield the Mets are now left with.
With Bruce securing right field duties, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares will fill up the other three outfield spots, leaving Michael Conforto, the Mets 2014 first round pick without a big league job.
Conforto broke into the majors in July, 2015, just in time for the Mets eventual World Series run.
The young outfielder burst onto the scene that season, helping resuscitate what was a barren Mets offense up to that point.
Conforto appeared in 56 games, hitting to a .270/.335/.506 clip, with nine long balls and 26 RBI’s, while hitting .333/.313/.733 with two homers and four RBI’s in the World Series.
Conforto carried over his successful rookie campaign to the beginning of the 2016 season, but after facing Madison Bumgarner in an early May game at Citi Field, Conforto floundered and was eventually sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas.
The outfielder was called back up later in the season, but still finished with a .220/.310/.414 slash line in 109 total games.
Unless something unforeseen happens between now and Spring Training, Bruce will be your teams starting right fielder, while Conforto is mitigated to a minor league role.