Now that Yoenis Cespedes is apparently back in the fold, the Mets 2017 payroll sits at an estimated $151 million. Even the most casual of Mets fans know it will not stay that high, so now all we can do is wait for the other shoe to drop.
That other shoe is likely to be Jay Bruce. On one level, it makes sense — the Mets are lefty-heavy in their crowded outfield, so someone has to go. He makes $13 million, so that would get the Mets closer to their probable desirable payroll of $140 million. And until the last two weeks of the season, Bruce was a flop. So yeah, send him packing.
But then there is that other level that says the Mets would be crazy to give up on Bruce. The guy is a legitimate power threat, among the tops in baseball. And $13 million is a relative bargain for someone like that. And maybe it took Bruce a while to get comfortable under the bright lights of New York. So now that he is, you send him away? That makes no sense.
Certainly, a trade must be made. The obvious candidates are Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda. All three are left-handed. Granderson makes $2 million more than Bruce in the final year of his contract while Duda will probably get around $8 million in his final year of arbitration.
Granderson turns 36 in March, coming off a disappointing season. Yes, he hit 30 home runs, but he hit just .237. Until Jose Reyes displaced him, he was not the leadoff spark plug he was in 2015. At his age, Granderson is likely to regress this season even further. Why would the Mets choose him over Bruce, which apparently is the thinking of the front office?
As far as Duda, he missed most of last season with a back injury. Those can be tricky; who knows if he will be able to come back. And Duda has proven to be extremely inconsistent. Again, why choose him over Bruce?
My first choice would be to get rid of Granderson, which would leave Bruce in right, with Cespedes and Michael Conforto trading time between left field and center. Juan Lagares would spell Conforto against tough lefties.
If the Mets deal Duda, then move Bruce to first, with Michael Conforto also learning how to play the position.
In the end, it just feels like a mistake to deal the superior player, which Bruce is to Granderson and Duda.