Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Take a look at what the man delivers in his career – he averages 31 HRs and 94 RBIs in a 162 game period. Last year he actually exceeded both of those numbers. He doesn’t hit for much of an average – .248 for his career – but he seems to make the most of the few hits he does get.
By comparison, Curtis Granderson averages 29 Hrs and 79 RBIs with a .255 AVG. For that he actually earns $2 million more than does Bruce. He’s 6 years older, no longer runs well and hasn’t thrown well even in his prime. He does a credible job fielding what he can reach, but most folks think he’s an asset whereas Bruce is a liabilty.
Does anyone remember Granderson’s first year in Queens? It was nearly Jason Bay ugly. He finished with just 20 HRs, 66 RBIs and batted .227 over the course of 155 games. As bad as Jay Bruce was last year, remember he delivered 8 HRs, 19 RBIs and a .219 average over 50 games. Extrapolate that over 155 games and he would have exceeded the HR totals and finished right about on par with the RBIs and batting average.
These thoughts are not intended to exonerate the shortcomings of Jay Bruce nor to vilify the accomplishments of Curtis Granderson. Both are similar, flawed players making similar salaries and the Mets are on the hook right now for both for one more year. Throw in Lucas Duda and you have another all-or-nothing lefty slugger albeit at about half the cost.
No, if you want to play the blame game for this 2016 off-season, picking up Jay Bruce’s option is not the boneheaded play some make it out to be. That crowning achievement was playing chicken with the injured back of Neil Walker. Remember that the Nationals gave Daniel Murphy an AAV of just $12.5 million per year for three years. How did that work out? The Mets, in their quest for the compensatory draft pick and as a hedge against a Yoenis Cespedes departure, foolishly offered a QO to Walker. I proclaimed he would be taking it to reestablish his value and then the Mets would be on the hook for 2017 for a $17.2 paycheck to a very good but not spectacular player recovering from back surgery. Unfortunately I was right. It accomplished little unless for whatever saving-face reason they choose to lock him up for another 3 years or so. If he walks away without a QO then they overpaid for a year. If they extend another QO then they risk repeating the same mistake.
Had they let Walker walk, they would have been saddled with filling that hole with former All Star Jose Reyes, surprising slugger Wilmer Flores, high average hitting T.J. Rivera or even soon-to-be-converted shortstop Gavin Cecchini. If you want to gripe about the financial constraints on the club’s moves thus far, don’t look to the tepid market for outfielders. Instead look at how $17.2 million could have been spent to address the catching, leadoff or bullpen issues.
Had they let Jay Bruce walk and not picked up his option then they would have saved $12 million as it would have cost $1 million to buy out the contract. That still makes the Walker deal $5.2 million more expensive. Personally, I think that the Mets will eventually move one of Bruce or Granderson for some lower level prospects that may or may not be worth the $1 million they would have paid simply to release Bruce. Whomever picks up the former Mets outfielder for that bargain basement price will be getting a tremendous deal. Bravo for them and bravo to the Mets for freeing up payroll. However, the smarter move would have been to part ways with Neil Walker and address the needs NOW instead of waiting first to unload salaries.