Jay Bruce will help the Phillies, and when he’s hot, his power will deepen their lineup. He’s not exactly the one big bat they were missing, but the Phillies gave up a Single A infielder and are assuming little of Bruce’s remaining contract, making the trade a no-brainer.
Bruce’s strengths and weaknesses are clear this long into his career. He has as much raw power as anyone and can hit you 30-plus home runs over a full season, especially a season like this one when the baseballs are ... different.
He also won’t hit much higher than .220, and he swings and misses a lot (though he doesn’t strike out as much as people think).
Even with Bruce’s deficiencies, it’s a worthwhile pickup for a Phillies team that isn’t getting much from the bottom third of its lineup. They needed another major-league bat with Odubel Herrera’s future unclear and the Nick Williams/Maikel Franco combination as unproductive as it has been. It has not looked like Williams or Franco are everyday pieces for a contending team.
Franco is hitting .150/.190/.230 over his last 100 at-bats with one home run. The bottom of the Phillies’ order hasn’t put stress on many pitchers lately. Acquiring Bruce allows the Phillies to play Bruce in left field, Andrew McCutchen in center and Scott Kingery at third base. Kingery is new to center field and has had some shaky moments. McCutchen can make more of an impact as a very good corner outfielder, but he also still plays a solid center field.
It’s a good move for the Phillies, especially on June 2, seven weeks ahead of the trade deadline. Like they did over the winter with the Jean Segura trade, the Phillies made use of Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto’s goal to “reimagine” his roster by shifting playing time from veterans to young players.
The Phillies can definitely use Bruce’s power. They rank 23rd in MLB this season in home runs, behind teams like the Mets, Orioles and Blue Jays. (Who saw that coming?)
He isn’t the most impactful addition, but Bruce can hit six or seven homers in a two-week stretch, which will help the Phillies whenever that hot streak occurs. It’s also fair to wonder how many difference-making bats were even going to come available before the deadline. Some of the league’s worst teams and clearest sellers — Baltimore, Toronto, Miami, San Francisco, Detroit — have very little offense to trade, especially in the outfield.
Keep in mind, too, that outfielder Adam Haseley, drafted less than two calendar years ago, is on the doorstep of the majors. As long as he continues to hit at Triple A, the opportunity could be there for him to contribute in the majors this summer and his call-up would be like an acquisition of its own. This Phillies outfield is still evolving.
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