After a month plus of silence from the Mets (and the majority of baseball) things got a bit noisier this past week as New York’s National League representative inked free agent outfielder, Jay Bruce, to a three-year, $39 million deal.
Bruce, who spent a large part of the past year and a half with the Mets, had a career season in 2017 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI split between New York and Cleveland after the Mets dealt him at this year’s deadline. Sandy Alderson acquired the long-time Cincinnati Red in a deadline deal in 2016 in an attempt to bolster the team’s postseason chances. Bruce struggled down the stretch that year, but rebounded on the field an in the hearts of fans this past season.
The signing has some Met fans asking questions, not because of Bruce’s ability, but because of his fit on the team’s roster. In a perfect and healthy world, Yoenis Cespedes locks down left field and Dominic Smith lives up to expectations at first base. Burgeoning superstar, Michael Conforto, would then have right field all to himself for the next half-decade as he hopefully picks up where he left off once he returns from his shoulder injury.
However, with the return of Bruce, this will force Conforto to center field for as long as Bruce, Cespedes, and Smith are on the diamond together. To the naked eye, Conforto looked “okay” in center last season, but by many defensive metrics rated below average when forced to play away from the corners.
Nevertheless, betting on all four of the players above to consistently remain on the field together is a foolish proposition. In this sense, Bruce serves as a solid back-up plan for when something goes awry. If Smith does not pan out at first, Bruce brings plenty of thump to lock down the position over the next few years.
In the short-term, many questions remain about the status of Conforto’s shoulder. It seems all but a certainty that he will not be ready for Opening Day, and at this point in time it may be equally likely that he returns in June or later rather than May. As a team hoping to compete in 2018, Jay Bruce will be a stalwart in the middle of the team’s order while Conforto gets himself right.
Yu Playing Games?
Late this week, ESPN radio host, Michael Kay, reported that the Yankees offered free agent pitcher, Yu Darvish, a seven-year, $160 million deal, but pulled the offer when Darvish didn’t accept within 48 hours.
If true, this would mark a noticeable departure from General Manager, Brian Cashman’s determination to keep the Yankees safely below the luxury tax threshold. The average annual value of $22.5 million on the rumored deal would be second highest on the team behind Giancarlo Stanton.
The 31-year-old Darvish would be a significant bolstering piece to an already star-studded Yankees team and potent rotation. Aside from all of the rumors and excitement however, Darvish has been playing spoiler through his Twitter feed.
Darvish tweeted Friday night that he hasn’t received an offer from the Yankees yet, but shortly after corrected himself saying he has received an offer, but the numbers aren’t correct. The Japan-native has actually been actively tweeting throughout the offseason offering some interesting and surprisingly private insights into his free agency.
To stay up to date on the latest between him and the Bronx Bombers you may want to give him a follow.