Dec. 11: The Blue Jays are also interested in Bruce, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Of course, the Jays nearly traded for Bruce when he was a member of the Reds in February 2016, and they went on to show interest in him again last offseason.
While the Mariners are reportedly in on Bruce, Greg Johns of MLB.com doesn’t see a match in the wake of their acquisition of newly minted outfielder Dee Gordon (Twitter link). Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is similarly skeptical, noting that the Mariners would have to trade away a corner outfielder to make it possible. He doesn’t completely rule that out, though, considering GM Jerry Dipoto’s affinity for making deals (via Twitter).
Dec. 1: The Mets are interested in Bruce on a three-year contract, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Bruce is still seeking a five-year deal according to Puma, indicating that despite a stagnant free-agent market, he hasn’t gotten anxious and lowered his early-November asking price (at least in terms of years).
Nov. 30, 6:46pm: Other organizations with some level of interest in Bruce include the Rockies and Mariners, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
It’s not known just how the Rockies view Bruce, but it’s conceivable they’d consider him as a first base target. Colorado was willing to roll the dice on utilizing Ian Desmond at first last year, but ended up using him mostly in the outfield and will likely keep him on the grass in 2017. That leaves first as the team’s most evident need in the field, though perhaps the club could instead view Bruce as a direct replacement for outgoing free agent corner outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Seattle evidently has its eye on a lefty outfield bat, as it has also been linked with Jon Jay (who is, of course, otherwise quite a different hitter than is Bruce). The M’s current outfield mix is more proficient in the defensive and baserunning departments, so Bruce could add a different skillset that might allow for greater situational flexibility.
5:28pm: The Mets share mutual interest with free agent slugger Jay Bruce, according to a report from Marc Carig of Newsday. Bruce, of course, opened the 2017 season in New York but was dealt in the middle of the year to the Indians.
It’s far from clear at this point whether the sides match up, but obviously they are plenty familiar after Bruce played 153 games with the Mets between his mid-2016 acquisition and the subsequent trade. Though he struggled initially, Bruce gave the Mets 448 plate appearancs of .256/.321/.520 hitting and 29 home runs in the most recent season — numbers that he largely maintained (.248/.331/.477) upon heading to Cleveland.
The time that Bruce spent with the Indians may actually have helped link him back to the Mets. Carig’s source notes that Bruce has a positive relationship with new Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, who just came over from the Cleveland organization.
It’ll be interesting to see how serious the Mets are about adding a player like Bruce, who only is even under contemplation owing to problems with two youngsters the organization had hoped to rely upon. Outfielder Michael Conforto is recovering from major shoulder surgery while first baseman Dominic Smith is coming off of a poor initial showing in the majors while facing some front office scrutiny for his conditioning. There are some generally positive signs for Conforto. And Smith at least seems to be taking the concerns to heart with a stepped-up effort to trim up, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to report (Twitter links).
Bruce has not spent much time at first, but was used there briefly by the Mets in 2017. Evidently, the team is comfortable with the idea of giving him significant time there. Unlike another rumored possibility, free agent Carlos Santana, Bruce would also provide an option in the corner outfield, where he has spent the bulk of his career.
Of course, what Bruce cannot do is offer any kind of solution to some of the Mets’ other pressing needs. Signing him, naturally, would draw resources that otherwise might be dedicated elsewhere, which is particularly notable given that Bruce is expected to command a long-term contract. (MLBTR predicts he’ll net $39MM over three years, but it’s certainly possible he could garner more.)
Notably, per Carig, the Mets are having some difficulty finding traction with potential second base targets. New York’s middling slate of upper-level prospects is “a barrier” in dialogue with the Tigers regarding Ian Kinsler, Carig reports, while the Mets have yet to engage in earnest with the Marlins on Dee Gordon.