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Mets meet with Rangers, discuss Jay Bruce and relief pitching

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The Mets have actively shopped Bruce at the Winter Meetings.

MLB: New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets have made no secret of Jay Bruce’s availability at the Winter Meetings, most recently discussing a deal with the Texas Rangers. The Mets are looking for relief pitching in exchange for Bruce, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports.

While the Mets were initially thought to be shopping Bruce and Curtis Granderson, it now appears they’ve shifted their focus away from dealing Granderson. Bruce might not seem like an ideal fit with the Rangers, who have Nomar Mazara, Carlos Gomez, and Shin-Soo Choo capable of playing the outfield. However, Choo may be headed for the DH spot, which would create an opening in the starting outfield. If Texas GM Jon Daniels is willing to pay Bruce’s $13 million salary for a part-time player, however, the Rangers have a number of interesting arms to offer in a trade.

Alex Claudio, a 24-year-old southpaw, held left-handed hitters to a .177 batting average in 39 appearances last season. Claudio is a young, proven commodity who doesn’t hit arbitration until 2019, so a one-for-one swap with Bruce may be wishful thinking. Jake Diekman is another lefty in Texas’s bullpen, and one with years of experience pitching in the NL East with the Phillies. Diekman’s erratic control and more mild lefty-right splits give him a substantially different profile from Claudio, and would leave the Mets without a situational left-hander if Jerry Blevins leaves in free agency.

Assuming relievers Sam Dyson, Jeremy Jeffress, and Matt Bush are unavailable via trade, the Mets would be left to discuss right-handers such as Nick Martinez, Tanner Scheppers, and Tony Barnette. The 26-year-old Martinez posted dreadful peripherals at the big league level last season, and will likely open the season in Triple-A or in a long relief role. Barnette, a 33-year-old rookie, posted a 2.09 ERA but suffered a strained oblique at the end of last season. Scheppers was held to under 10 appearances due to a knee injury in 2016, making him an unlikely trade target.