Deal Done: Jay Bruce is going to the Mets
UPDATE: The deal is done. Ken Rosenthal says that infielder Dilson Herrera is going to the Reds to complete the trade, joining Brandon Nimmo and a third prospect. Steep price for a corner guy.
2:20 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets are trying to rework the Jay Bruce deal. It turns out that one of the low-level prospects in the deal is the one with the medical issue, not Brandon Nimmo and his foot. If it’s a minor player the deal may very well be salvaged, but it is not a done deal.
1:15 PM: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that a medical issue may be holding up the trade. It’s not clear what the issue is, but it’s worth noting that the prospect heading to Cincinnati in this deal -- Brandon Nimmo -- had a ligament issue in his foot earlier this year.
12:45 PM: This has been bubbling since last night -- and it was bubbling a year ago at the deadline as well -- but now it’s reportedly done: Reds rightfielder Jay Bruce is going to the New York Mets. Tim Brown of Yahoo is reporting that rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo is heading to Cincinnati in the deal, along with two lower-level prospects. The deal has not yet been confirmed by either team, but multiple reporters are confirming Brown’s report.
Bruce is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .265/.316/.559 with 25 homers and 80 driven in. It’s certainly his best power season, as he’s on pace for 39 homers, but his on-base percentage is unimpressive and he remains a pretty profound defensive liability. He’s always a threat to hit the longball, but his RBI total is aided by Joey Votto being on base in front of him a lot. By WAR, which measures defense as well, he’s provided negative value over the past three seasons. He’s likewise just barely a top-200 player this year, even with the homers.
Not that he doesn’t have some value for the Mets. At the moment Yoenis Cespedes is hurt and he may need to go to the disabled list. More to the point, Cespedes has an opt-out in his contract after this season and if he exercises it, Bruce would be the fallback option and/or negotiating leverage for the Mets. In the meantime, Bruce will either cover left field for Cespedes or he will cover his familiar right field with Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto covering left, and, once Cespedes returns, play right with some combination of Conforto and Granderson doing their best to cover center.
Heading to the Reds is Nimmo, who was just called up for the second time by the Mets. He’s had 60 plate appearances this year, posting a line of .236/.300/.291. In Triple-A he’s hit far better, posting a line of .318/.405/.493 in 104 games across two seasons. Though, to be sure, those are Las Vegas-inflated numbers. The 23 year-old Nimmo gets on base at a good clip and plays center.
As for the money, Bruce is owed the remainder of his $12.5 million salary for 2016 and is subject to a club option for 2017 at $13 million with a one million dollar buyout. Nimmo will be under team control for years and years, of course.