According to countless reports since December, the Mets have been trying to trade Jay Bruce and his salary so they can free up money to add a relief pitcher.
Bruce is due $13 million next season, after which he can be a free agent.
In the event Bruce is traded, Yoenis Cespedes is expected to start most days in left field, with Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares splitting time across center and right field.
That said, it's quite clear the Mets totally misread the market for power hitters and outfielders this winter. Or, this is a risk they were willing to accept. In either case, position players are due to report to St. Lucie in less than three weeks and Bruce is still on the roster, which is why Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently told reporters it's possible he begins spring training with all of his current outfielders, including Bruce.
"Obviously the market for certain players, certain free agents and therefore trade candidates has been slow at best, nonexistent at worst," Alderson said, according to NJ.com. "What we continue to do is reassess where we are and what our options are going forward, and those options range from doing something soon, which is possible or was possible, is possible, or doing nothing."
Is any team willing to take Bruce?
The way it stands, it would seem the Rangers and Giants are the best-possible fit for Bruce. The Rangers are still very much looking to add a power-hitting DH or outfielder. However, they're reportedly negotiating with free-agent 1B-DH Mike Napoli.
Free-agent hitters Chris Carter, Mike Naploli and Pedro Alvarez (Credit: USA Today Sports)
The Rangers also have leverage in talks with Napoli since 1B-DH Pedro Alvarez and 1B Chris Carter are also still available on the open market.
The Rays, Twins, Angels and Royals are all open to adding another hitter, according to multiple reports, but it's hardly a pressing need, which may be why none of them seem eager to overspend to make it happen.
The Giants actually do need and reportedly want a left-handed hitting outfielder, like Bruce, but don't want to spend additional money to do it...
Similarly, while the Orioles are still seeking an outfielder, they prefer a less-expensive fourth outfielder that can help improve their fielding, such as free-agent OF Angel Pagan or Michael Bourn, not a one-dimensional power hitter like Bruce.
How will this end?
In other words, the way I see it, the Mets will either trade Bruce for a relief pitcher to the Rangers (because somehow Texas missed out on signing Napoli, Alvarez and Carter); or, the Mets will trade Bruce - and pay close to all of his salary - to the Giants (or, maybe the Rays or Twins), while getting very little in return; or, the Mets will keep Bruce, have him in camp during Spring Training and hope to move him again between March and the July 31 trade deadline...
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.