Mets fans weren’t expecting too much from Jay Bruce when the team picked up his option for the 2017 season. Bruce was coming off of a disappointing second half of the 2016 campaign after New York traded for him at that year’s trade deadline.
However, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for Bruce, as he hit a career-high 36 home runs and posted an on-base percentage of .324, his highest mark since 2013. 29 of those home runs came with the Mets before the franchise dealt him to Cleveland, where Bruce helped the Indians win the American League Central.
Bruce’s powerful showing last year, his leadership in the clubhouse, and his ability to play both first base and outfield make him an appealing free agent target for New York this offseason. According to Newsday, it seems that Bruce and his former team have mutual interest in getting back together.
Bruce will turn 31 years old at the outset of the 2018 season, and he doesn’t play very good defense, so it’s hard to imagine the Mets going more than three years with him. With both Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes locked into outfield spots in the near future, the Mets need someone to fill the third role as well as someone who can play first base in case Dominic Smith isn’t the real deal. Bruce can do both of those things, but his poor glove work and left-handedness make him a less-than-ideal candidate.
If Bruce chooses New York over a team that has a better chance of winning in 2018, we may be able to point to Mickey Callaway as the reason why. The new Mets skipper is said to have a good relationship with Bruce from their two months in Cleveland together.