The Mets are making an effort to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the rebuilding Reds, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), though he adds that they’re also still exploring other options. The report comes on the heels of word from ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Reds would be open to a Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the current feeling he gets is that New York could pick up Bruce in exchange for Wheeler and another piece. Rosenthal adds to his tweet above that Wheeler would likely be in a deal for Bruce.
Adding an outfield bat — preferably one that’s controllable beyond 2015, such as Bruce — is a known priority for the Mets. Last night, they agreed to terms on a Carlos Gomez swap with the Brewers, but the deal fell through due to reported concerns over Gomez’s medicals and possibly over financial components of the deal. Gomez has since been traded to the Astros.
Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause, but the Mets aren’t one of the clubs to which he can block a deal. The 28-year-old slugger has rebounded nicely from a down season in 2014 — which was quite possibly derailed by in-season knee surgery from which he rushed back — to post a .257/.341/.486 batting line entering play Thursday. Bruce struggled into mid-May, but since the 16th of that month (an admittedly very arbitrary endpoint on this sample), he’s batted .306/.377/.563 with 12 homers in 62 games.
Should a deal for Bruce come together, the Mets would be acquiring a bat that they can control into the 2017 season. Bruce is earning $12MM this year (of which about $4.52MM remains) plus $12.5MM in 2016. His contract has a $13.5MM team option for the 2017 season that comes with a $1MM buyout. All told, he’d cost the Mets about $30.52MM for the next two and a half seasons.
The Mets’ preference in trades is to add an outfielder that can handle center field, and Bruce doesn’t fit that mold, but the team does still have Juan Lagares as an option in center. And, as Rosenthal tweeted earlier, Curtis Granderson could slide over to center field as well, thereby pushing Lagares into a reserve role. That would cost the team some defensive value, of course, though speculatively speaking, that might be a trade-off they’re willing to make given the team’s run-scoring woes for much of the season.