Posted on August 1, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
For the New York Mets, it’s deja vu all over again. A year ago, minutes before the trade deadline, the Mets made a deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes. This year, minutes before the deadline they acquired outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for second baseman Dilson Herrera and pitching prospect Max Wotell. In another case of deja vu, the trade for Bruce was put on hold for several hours after a concern arose regarding the medical report on one of the minor leaguers the Mets were sending to Cincinnati, similar to last year when the Mets worked out a trade for Carlos Gomez, only to have the deal voided by concerns over the health of Gomez by the Mets.
The original trade had the Mets sending outfielder Brandon Nimmo and two low-level minor leaguers to the Reds; however, there was reportedly a problem with the medical report on one of those minor leaguers. The Mets and Reds were able to rework the trade to involve Herrera, who many considered to be the second baseman of the future for the Mets, and Wotell.
Bruce is not an ideal fit for the Mets, but he does fill several needs. New York has struggled offensively this season, particularly with runners on base, and Bruce adds a big bat to the middle of the order to help support Yoenis Cespedes. Bruce also has a $13 million option for the 2017 season, while Cespedes is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent after the season. The presence of Bruce next season will make Cespedes leaving easier to handle for the Mets if that ends up being the case.
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For the immediate future, Bruce figures to play right field for the Mets, forcing Curtis Granderson to make the move to center field. Granderson may share time in center field with Michael Conforto, with Alejandro de Aza also being in the mix as a part-time player or late-game defensive replacement. Cespedes will continue to play left field for the Mets, although he is struggling with a quad injury, with the Mets hopeful he can avoid a trip to the DL. The Mets will be better able to handle Cespedes going to the DL with Bruce in their lineup, although New York will need both in their lineup to make a run down the stretch.
For the Reds, Herrera is all but ready to play regularly in the big leagues, although current second baseman Brandon Phillips is under contract for the 2017 season. Wotell was a 3rd round pick in last year’s draft and is currently pitching in rookie ball. The lefty has a 3.94 ERA across six starts this season.
This trade was certainly a rollercoaster ride, but in the end it got done with Bruce going to the Mets. Bruce is the type of hitter the Mets need to help jumpstart their offense and get back in the mix for a playoff spot. The Mets are currently 6.5 games out of first place in the NL East and 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot. Whether Bruce is capable of making that big of an impact for the Mets remains to be seen.