I will begin this post by saying I like Jay Bruce and I hope he is not traded. But by all accounts, Sandy Alderson is determined to deal him and is finding no takers. Which begs the question — did Alderson misread the market for Bruce starting in last July?
In Dilson Herrera, the Mets dealt a top prospect for Bruce. They also took on roughly $20 million in salary. Now, Alderson apparently can’t even get a low-level prospect for Bruce and the $13 million left on his one-year deal. Could Alderson have gotten Bruce for less? Obviously, such power hitters as Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo were not available at the time, as they are now, so maybe Alderson had to overpay. But since it appears Bruce is not held in particularly high regard by rival GMs, perhaps the Mets did not have to part with Herrera to get him.
Then there was the off-season decision to pick up Jay Bruce’s $13 million option. Alderson had to be convinced that he could easily deal him or the Mets would not have made such a risky financial move. Now, Alderson is misreading the current market.
Reports say the Mets will not be able to move Bruce unless they pick up a good portion of his salary. Alderson is said to be dead set against this. This is the correct stance. Jay Bruce is still a viable player — he will hit 30+ home runs for someone in 2017. Unless they can land a top prospect (which seems unlikely at this point), why should the Mets pay many millions of dollars for him to do it for another team?
I’ve been saying all along that the best option was to non-tender Lucas Duda and move Bruce to first. They are very similar players except Jay Bruce has hit 20+ home runs in eight of his nine seasons (topping 30 four times) while Duda has hit 20 or more twice, just once topping 30. Bruce is also a year younger and did not miss most of last season with a serious back injury, as Duda did.
In the end, it is likely that some team which misses out on all of the free agent power hitters will deal for Bruce, paying all of his salary and sending the Mets a mid-level prospect or mediocre middle reliever. Does that leave the Mets a better team? I say no.