The Mets will sign free agent OF-1B Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million deal, which will pay him just $10 million in 2018, according to multiple reports.
This is good news, not great news. The Mets are better today than yesterday. But, still a lot has to be done to get their offense where it has to be for Opening Day. But, one thing at a time...
By signing Bruce, I expect Sandy Alderson's next set of moves will be to either trade for a center fielder, trade for a second baseman, or sign a free-agent third baseman (or all of the above). I've heard the Mets have a two-year offer out to Addison Reed, but so do lots of teams.
Obviously, signing Logan Morrison or Adam Lind is no longer an option because he and Bruce do the same thing, which is hit home runs and play right field and first base.
In regards to Bruce, I had been hearing others were reporting that he hoped to ink a deal with a team in California or Texas, but it appears those teams had other plans. Or, at the very least, were not interested in giving him more than a two-year deal.
I've heard at least one other team was willing to give him three years, but -- because he eventually chose the Mets -- my hunch is the offer came from Toronto, where he must have had zero interest.
And so, here he is, returning to New York, which seemed nearly impossible one year ago when the Mets were reportedly calling every team in baseball trying to trade him for a reliever.
However, the reality is that Bruce holds a unique value to the Mets, who have a unique value to Bruce. This is why this is such a beautiful marriage of convenience.
In the Mets, Bruce reportedly gets a three-year commitment, a $1.5 million signing bonus, a limited no-trade clause each season, and the luxury of returning to a life he knows in New York. He has teammates that are friends, a manager who was pitching coach when he was in Cleveland, and a division and ballpark he's familiar with, surrounded by fans that mostly appreciate him.
By the way, with how Wilmer Flores hits left-handed pitching, he and Bruce can probably combine to be an elite first baseman (.270-280 and more than 30 home runs). However, this would mean Bruce playing close to 100 games at first base, which I don't think Alderson intends for him to do...
Instead, in Bruce, the Mets get a left-handed power hitter that can play right field and some first base. He had a career-high 46 percent fly-ball rate last season, which helped him hit a career-high 36 home runs. More important than that, though, he has demonstrated that he can take a hit in New York City, and rebound beneath its intense spotlight. There is an endless list of free-agent athletes that came to New York, struggled, never found success, and ended up being a total bust. Bruce did the opposite with professionalism and humility, earned the respect of the city, and set a terrific example for his teammates.
Speaking of Bruce's teammates, they adore him. He is viewed in the clubhouse as an affable, smart, easy-to-talk-with veteran that has a relationship with seemingly every player regardless of age, race, or experience. I've heard new Mets manager Mickey Callaway was a fan of Jay due in large part to how he quickly helped Cleveland's clubhouse after being traded there in July.
The thing is, again, while Bruce is a good acquisition, the Mets need to add more everyday talent to their lineup to sustain injury and outpace their pitching staff.
It's hard to fathom Alderson entering February totally confident in Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto splitting time in center field, especially since Conforto's early-season status is not fully known. My understanding is he and Callaway would prefer more everyday experience roaming center field, so perhaps a follow-up trade will come to fruition.
I can see Nelson Figueroa's idea of trading Lagares and prospects for Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, who can also play third base, not just second. I can see Alderson combining Lagares and Dominic Smith and AJ Ramos in other deals to rotate salary and fill holes, as well.
It's also worth noting that Reed, Todd Frazier, Neil Walker, Eduardo Nunez, Lorenzo Cain, and dozens of other free agents remain unsigned and are growing desperate on the open market. The point is, there are more moves to make, and I believe more moves will be made...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...