Jay Bruce and the Mets have mutual interest in a reunion. Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that Bruce wants a five-year deal while the Mets prefer a three-year deal to bring the lefty slugger back to Queens.
When you hear the Mets are looking to reunite with a player who helped contribute to a massively disappointing 70-92 season, the decision should be met with skepticism. However, when that player is Bruce, the reunion makes sense.
First and foremost, Bruce was not the problem in 2017. In fact, after a horrid start to his Mets career in 2016, he excelled last year. Before getting traded to the Cleveland Indians, he hit .256/.321/.520 with 20 doubles, 29 homers, and 75 RBI.
With Bruce, it’s more than just his production. Bringing him back would also serve as an effective insurance policy for the Mets.
After Sandy Alderson’s comments at the GM meetings in mid-November, it sounds like Dominic Smith has fallen out of favor.
“He didn’t win it in September, let’s put it that way,” Alderson told reporters about his status at first base.
Whether or not this is a reaction to the 49 games he played in last year, it’s difficult to just overlook his hitting .198/.262/.395. With those numbers and a -0.6 WAR, the Mets need to have a viable alternative to Smith.
Last year, Bruce stepped in and played first base for the Mets on two different occasions. In 91 innings played there, he posted a 0 DRS. More than the numbers, he looked able to handle the position, especially when considering his prior experience was limited to only 26 innings in 2014. With more work at the position during Spring Training, and some advice from Keith Hernandez, he certainly can improve.
With that said, Bruce’s best position is right field. Coincidentally, the Mets need insurance there as well.
Last year, it appeared as if Michael Conforto was on his path to superstardom. Then on Aug. 24, he swung and missed at a 2-0 pitch from Robbie Ray and went down in a heap. He was diagnosed with a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder.
So far, reports are positive. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Conforto should be swinging a bat by late January. However, even with these positive reports, the Mets fully admit he can still miss Opening Day. With a setback, who knows how much time he will miss.
And if Conforto is actually ready by Opening Day, no one can be sure what he can provide. This makes getting an insurance policy for him imperative.
Overall, Bruce not only gives the Mets the opportunity to bring Smith and/or Conforto along slowly, but he also provides insurance in case either player is not ready to contribute in 2018.
If the Mets are really intending on contending in 2018, they will need a player like Bruce. Considering his success last year, that player might as well be Bruce.