The Mets have reportedly been trying to trade Jay Bruce for a relief pitcher or prospects, while freeing up salary to sign additional help for their bullpen.
In the last four months, the Orioles, Rangers, Blue Jays, Giants and other teams have all reportedly shown some level interest in trading for Bruce.
Here's how I would characterize each team as a possible trade partner...
Mariners? Not Happening: The M's do not need a corner outfielder. In fact, they just traded one away. What's more, like the Mets, they're looking to trade for more relief pitching.
A's? Always a possibility: There has been no evidence the A's have interest in Bruce. However, GM Billy Beane is notorious for acquiring players at a discount -- even if he doesn't need them -- with the sole intent of dealing them at the trade deadline. In the NY Post, columnist Joel Sherman suggests the Mets deal Bruce to Oakland for reliever Ryan Madson, John Axford, or Sean Doolittle, all of whom are making meaningful money.
Rangers? It's a good fit, very possible: The Rangers are reportedly in the market for a left-handed power hitter. They have openings in the outfield and relief pitching to trade, which is why they're repeatedly characterized as a legit option for trading Bruce. The Mets and Rangers met during the Baseball Winter Meetings in December, according to MLB.com, but a deal has yet to materialize.
I've heard Texas is willing to deal RH reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who the Mets had interest in last summer before he was dealt by the Brewers with All-Star C Jonathan Lucroy. It's also worth noting Texas still has Lucroy, who the Mets also once tried to get from Milwaukee.
Jul 4, 2016; Jeffress (21) is congratulated by Lucroy after earning a save against at Nationals Park. Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals? Unlikely: The Cardinals need a fourth outfielder and are far more likely to sign a free agent, like Brandon Moss, than trade for an everyday guy like Bruce.
Giants? Possible, but unlikely: The Giants have a need for Bruce, there is no question about it. However, they are reportedly out of spending money and they have no relief pitching to trade. My hunch is they will deal prospects for a third baseman and use a mix of players led by Eduardo Núñez in left field. But, until they make moves -- or Bruce gets traded elsewhere -- I still see San Francisco as a possible landing spot.
Phillies? Possible, but last resort: The Phillies clearly need a left-handed hitting corner outfielder. And, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, they're open to acquiring Bruce. However, because they're rebuilding, Philadelphia does not want to give up any prospects.
That said, despite the financial cost, they're probably looking to acquire the best possible player they can flip at the deadline, such as Bruce. They make sense, but only if the Mets are down for a straight salary dump, which I don't believe is Sandy Alderson's goal at this point.
White Sox? Unlikely: Similar to the Phillies, the Sox are rebuilding and need at least two everyday outfielders. They could sign a low-cost free agent, who they'll likely end up keeping all season. Or, they could talk to the Mets about Bruce, who they could flip for a prospect in July. There is no evidence to suggest Chicago has interest in Bruce, but -- according to the Daily News -- the Mets have looked in to acquiring White Sox set-up man David Robertson.
Aug 4, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher David Robertson (30) pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports (Rick Osentoski)
Blue Jays? Possible, but only if they're desperate: The Blue Jays need Bruce, but they have no relief pitching to trade. In fact, they're reportedly in the market for both left- and right-handed relievers. Instead, I've heard they're pushing expendable position players, like Dalton Pompey, who has no role on the Mets. The Jays have money to spend and intend to win in 2017, so I still expect them to re-sign Jose Bautista or snag the next-best available free agent. Bruce is likely a fallback option for them, meaning a lot will need to happen in the free-agent market before trading with the Mets becomes their best alternative.
Orioles? Very possible, makes the most sense: The O's have the biggest need for Bruce, in my opinion, and they're reportedly willing to trade a relief pitcher for hitting. They need a right fielder, left fielder, and DH, and left-handed hitters crush the ball in Camden Yards.
I suspect Bruce would already be an Oriole if the Mets were willing to pay some of his salary, because my hunch is they'd like to then turn around and sign a DH, such as Pedro Alvarez. But, the Mets are so far holding firm on not paying down Bruce's money, because -- similar to Baltimore -- Alderson wants to save money to sign a free-agent reliever.
This is all the more reason why, eventually, I expect these two to figure it out, solve one another's problem, swap a quality arm (say, Brad Brach) for Bruce and cash and move on. But, understandably, the Orioles want to play out all of their options before turning back to Queens.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) has been the lead writer of MetsBlog.com since 2003, as well as Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for SNY.TV and host of the MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Citi.