Indians Acquire Jay Bruce from the Mets
Bob Toth | On 09, Aug 2017
After what was a notably quiet non-waivers trade deadline period for the club, the Cleveland Indians added some pop to the lineup late Wednesday night, acquiring left-handed hitting slugger Jay Bruce from the New York Mets.
Bruce was on the market throughout the month of July for the disappointing Mets, but the team did not find any takers for the 30-year-old right fielder at the time. He passed unclaimed through revocable waivers at the end of last week, opening the door for New York to continue to negotiate with all teams for his services. His value increased for the Indians when the team lost left fielder Michael Brantley with a right ankle sprain that will keep him sidelined for an undetermined time frame.
Bruce had an eight-team no-trade clause in his existing deal, one that was paying him $13 million for the final season of his contract. The Athletics, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Phillies, Rays, Twins, and Yankees were the teams he would have needed to waive his clause for, according to a tweet from MLB on Fox and Facebook’s Ken Rosenthal on August 5.
Approximately $4 million was remaining on the deal, which the Indians will pick up in exchange for his services. The Yankees, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, were also in talks with the Mets, but wanted some of his salary picked up by their neighbors in Queens.
The Mets also acquired minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan in the deal, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Ryan was a 30th round selection by the Indians in the 2016 draft out of the University of North Carolina. The 22-year-old right-hander was 3-4 with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 33 relief appearances at Class-A Lake County this season in his second year of pro ball.
Bruce, a ten-year vet best remembered for his play in parts of nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and a former first round pick in the 2005 draft, is on pace to easily surpass the biggest power seasons of his career. Through 102 games this season, he has 29 homers to his credit, not far off from the 34 he hit in his second of three All-Star seasons with the Reds in 2012. He also has 20 doubles and has driven in 75 while slashing .258/.324/.524.
He has slumped a bit of late, going hitless in his last 13 at bats and putting up a .229/.281/.470 slash since the break with two doubles, six homers, and 16 RBI in 21 games as for a second consecutive season, his name was heavily circulated in trade rumors. In his 81 games in the first half of the season, he provided a .266/.334/.538 line at the plate with 18 doubles, 23 homers, and 59 RBI.
His numbers this season follow typical left-handed-hitting patterns. He has hit .264 against right-handers with 16 of his doubles and 21 of his homers in 327 plate appearances. Against left-handers, he has hit .243 with four doubles and eight homers in 118 plate appearances. The power numbers versus left-handed pitching are nearly on pace with his numbers off of right-handers, but he has had nearly three times as many at bats against them than he has had against southpaws.
He has looked comfortable in his career at Progressive Field, hitting .384 there in 23 games with six doubles, four homers, and 12 runs batted in. He is a lifetime .249 hitter over more than 5,000 at bats and has hit 270 career homers.
Bruce joined the Mets last season after appearing in his third career All-Star Game. The Reds sent him to New York for second baseman Dilson Herrera and minor league pitcher Max Wotell on the final day of the non-waivers trade deadline on August 1. Herrera, who had appeared in MLB action in 2015 and 2016 for the Mets, has been limited to just 92 games for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville since joining the organization.
The Indians have been in need of additional run producers in the lineup since Lonnie Chisenhall, a surprisingly productive RBI man this season, landed on the disabled list just before the All-Star break. He has yet to return to the roster from his third stint on the DL this season (right shoulder sprain, concussion, calf). Coupled with the loss of Brantley on Tuesday for an unknown period of time, the Indians had a pressing need in their outfield. The current roster is made up of veteran Austin Jackson, slumping rookie Bradley Zimmer, and two platoon/bench pieces in Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer.
The Indians formally announced the deal with the Mets for Bruce in a press release shortly before 11 PM. It is expected that Bruce will join the club in Tampa in the coming days.
Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images