Posted on June 2, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Jay Bruce
Image via thenewstribune.com

When you’re the Seattle Mariners, it’s always trading season, even in early June. On Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies were the beneficiaries of Seattle’s non-stop openness to wheeling and dealing. The Phillies have acquired power-hitting outfielder Jay Bruce in exchange for third base prospect Jake Scheiner. As part of the deal, the Mariners will pay $18.5 of the $21.3 million left on Bruce’s contract through the end of the 2020 season.

The trade continues a wild ride for Bruce over the past few seasons. Since the 2016 season, he’s been traded from the Reds to the Mets, traded from the Mets to the Indians, re-signed with the Mets, only to be traded to the Mariners last winter. Now he’s on his way back to the NL East to join the Phillies. Through it all, he has bounced back from an injury-plagued 2018 season, already hitting 14 home runs for the Mariners, posting an OPS of .816 despite only hitting .212.

“I get to go somewhere I have a chance to win, and at this point in my career, that’s pretty paramount for me,” Bruce said of the trade. “I look forward to going over there and helping the Phillies hopefully win a championship. That’s my goal. I just want to win.”

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For the Phillies, the trade comes less than a week after Odubel Herrera was placed on administrative leave following an arrest for domestic violence. It’s not yet clear if Major League Baseball will levy a punishment against Herrera or extend his stay on administrative leave. Without him, Philadelphia’s lacks both outfield depth and left-handed hitters outside of Bryce Harper. The addition of Bruce helps solve both of those problems.

“I think it’s clear that a left-handed bat would be helpful for us,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday about the possibility of adding Bruce before the trade became official. “Speaking generally, I think it’s always good to have a veteran pinch-hitter, a guy who can have an experienced and high-quality plate appearance in a big moment. I also think that a profile like that, in general, fits our club.”

With Harper entrenched in right field and Rhys Hoskins locked in at first base, Bruce will likely see most of his action at left field. That will mean Andrew McCutchen will continue to play center field, which he’s been doing without Herrera available. Nick Williams could be an option in the outfield, but he’s hitting .159 in the majors this year. Meanwhile, Scott Kingery can serve as an option in both left field and center field.

For the Mariners, the trade is a way to save a little money while they rebuild. Seattle is currently last in the AL West and 12 games under .500. Bruce has moved between first base, the outfield, and the DH spot this season. The Mariners have other options at all of those spots. They should have no problem absorbing his absence.

In the end, this trade will be judged on how much Bruce does to help keep the Phillies atop the NL East. As long as Herrera is out, he’ll likely be Philadelphia’s left fielder. If and when Herrera returns, Bruce could be pushed into a more part-time role. However, having a veteran hitter with power coming off the bench can only help the Phillies. At first glance, Bruce could end up being a big addition for Philadelphia.

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