The New York Mets have officially come to terms on a 3-year deal with free agent, Jay Bruce.
That is the headline that should be on the back page of all major New York Newspapers by the end of December. The New York Mets have a corner outfielder who can also play First Base on their list of needs this offseason and Jay Bruce fits that description to a tee.
Jay Bruce spent the majority of last season with the Mets after they acquired him prior to the trade deadline in 2016 and although his tenure as a Met was short he proved he can handle the New York spotlight.
As a Met Bruce played in 153 games, batted .245 with a .313 OBP, 37 home runs, and 94 RBI’s. Those stats are combined from two separate seasons but are basically a full season of statistics that the Mets desperately need in order to compete next season.
While there are a few candidates available in the free agency pool that fit the same mold as Jay Bruce and they are what the Mets need, they just aren’t the right person for the job. Some of the players that have been linked to the Mets are Adam Lind, Logan Morrison, and Carlos Santana. Those are talented players who all just had great seasons, but they have not had consistent success quite like Jay Bruce.
One other important thing to note there is no guarantee where the player the Mets bring in to fill this hole is going to play more. That answer will be determined by multiple moving parts, one being the health of Michael Conforto, and the other being the confidence of the Mets brass in Dom Smith, who needs to impress this spring training to earn a spot on the roster.
When it comes to Conforto if he is healthy he is expected to play Center Field, a position that he can handle, but not excel at, however, the GM of the Mets, Sandy Alderson cares more about offensive output than defensive ability. That would leave Right Field open for the player the Mets bring in to fill the corner outfield/First Base hole.
The Mets have more depth in the outfield than they do at First Base. They have former gold glove winner, and the best defensive Center Fielder I have ever seen, Juan Lagares. They also have former first-round draft pick Brandon Nimmo, who showed last season he can be a great pinch hitter, and handle playing Center and Right field while playing every day.
If Conforto is not healthy to start the season the Mets depth would be put to the test, being Opening Day starters, and although the Mets trust Lagares and Nimmo that is not a situation they want to find themselves in. That would be one reason why the Mets bring in an outfielder to start the season in Right Field
It is not as simple as that though, the player that was believed to possibly be the First Baseman of the future, Dom Smith, did not impress many with his dreadful numbers, inconsistent defense, and his inability to keep his weight under control. He has to prove that he is MLB ready this spring training or he will be headed to AAA to get more seasoning.
That is a move that may be best for him, especially considering he is only 22, but he has been working hard this offseason and has already lost 12 pounds, which shows his work ethic should not be questioned. Smith also has been working with the Mets now former hitting coach, Kevin Long to improve his swing, so he deserves a legitimate shot to prove himself this spring training.
If Smith cannot earn First Base the player they sign may be the Opening Day First Baseman instead.
It is a confusing situation to grasp considering there is no perfect signing because there is nobody in the free agency that is great at both First Base and Right Field, so the smartest thing to do would be to sign the best offensive option that can handle both positions. That makes the question as to who fits the mold best 1,000 times easier.
When looking at the four players the Mets have been connected to so far in the offseason, Jay Bruce, Adam Lind, Logan Morrison, and Carlos Santana purely from an offensive standpoint the when it comes to deciding the best fit, Bruce is the man.
Jay Bruce is an All-Star and a perennial 30 home run and 100 RBI guy, perfect for the middle of a lineup. Bruce also played under the new Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, who was the pitching coach in Cleveland where Bruce finished out the last season. He also became a fan favorite while on the Mets and someone that the fan base is hoping will return to the orange and blue.
The only issue is the fact that the Mets are not looking to open up their checkbook, and Bruce is looking for a 5-year deal. Bruce won’t get a 5-year contract because there simply is no team willing to give him a deal like that. However, if the Mets offer a 3 year deal with a team option and a partial no-trade clause a deal could be made to bring the slugger back to the big apple.