TODAY: The Phillies will cover “the bulk” of Bruce’s remaining salary obligations once the deal is official, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. While the exact dollar figures aren’t yet known, the Phillies were willing to take on more of Bruce’s contract than any other team the Mariners were in talks with about the veteran slugger, Nightengale notes.
SATURDAY, 10:46pm: A deal’s close to the finish line, “pending a review of Bruce’s medicals and other final details,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. The Mariners will receive cash savings and a minor leaguer in return, Rosenthal adds.
12:57pm: Passan has amended his earlier report to state that a deal between the two sides is “not imminent.”
Bruce, 32, has rebounded in ’19 for the Mariners after a poor showing in 2018 with the Mets. In 184 plate appearances for Seattle, the three-time all-star’s posted a solid .212/.283/.533 line (114 wRC+) on the back of a career-best .321 ISO. His hard-hit rate has jumped to near career-best levels, though his average exit velocity (via Statcast) still doesn’t register among the game’s top 100 qualified hitters.
Armed with a no-trade clause and a hefty $22.5 MM remaining on the three-year deal he signed with New York prior to the 2018 season, Bruce didn’t seem a likely candidate to move so soon, especially to a club which already featured Bryce Harper and an aging Andrew McCutchen at the corner-outfield spots. McCutchen, though, has more often been deployed in his traditional center-field post (despite frightening advanced metrics at the position in his last two prolonged attempts) in the absence of Odubel Herrera, who’s been placed on administrative leave after his arrest for a domestic violence charge.
Bruce, then, could fill Nick Williams’ current role as the strong side of a left-field platoon, or perhaps simply as a bench option (MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Phils are looking to upgrade the unit) and DH in AL parks. The longtime Red’s always been a bit of a liability against southpaws, and his defense, like McCutchen’s, has declined rapidly in recent seasons.
Trigger-happy Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto again seems to be on the prowl for Seattle, this time in perhaps the more thorough iteration of a multi-stage teardown that began in earnest last November. There’ll be no shortage of candidates with which to shuffle, though many of the choicest names have been injured (Kyle Seager) or seen their performance slide to immovable levels (Dee Gordon, Mike Leake).