The Mets gave outfielder Jay Bruce a three-year deal this offseason, hoping he could replicate the 29 home run, 75 RBI production he gave New York in 2017 prior to being traded to Cleveland.
However, Bruce has looked like a shell of himself in 2018, hitting just three long balls and 14 RBI to go along with a .226/.294/.355 clip in 170 at-bats.
The 31-year-old figured to be a key piece in the middle of the Mets lineup, but has given them little to no production all season. This is a recurring them for New York, who have scored the fifth lowest runs in the game this year with 190 and are batting just .237 as a team.
But for Bruce, it’s even more concerning and disheartening. Even with his shoddy defense, the Mets have needed him to be a better hitter than a guy who is putting up an 80 wRC+ and .282 wOBA.
Brandon Nimmo has broken out in a big way, being good for 1.3 WAR and hitting to a .278/.430/.511 clip in 114 plate appearances thus far in 2018.
Bruce, who has logged a -1.1 UZR and has been good for two defensive runs saved, could feasibly move to first, but Adrian Gonzalez has actually been one of the top hitters on the Mets in the month of May.
The veteran Gonzalez has hit .296/.356/.426 this month and has provided solid defense at first base.
Bruce is in an awkward spot, and so are the Mets. On one hand, he is making the big bucks to play here, but at this point, how can you justify playing him over any of the other outfielders, or even over Gonzalez or Wilmer Flores at first?
At this point, Bruce should ride the pine, regardless of his contract. He isn’t performing at the level the Mets need to, and when Cespedes returns, your strongest outfield is him, Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
Unfortunately at this point, the deal the Mets gave Bruce looks like it’s only going to bog the team down the next the next three seasons, while giving them a square peg to fit in a round hole.