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How much does Jay Bruce trade improve Phillies?

How much does Jay Bruce trade improve Phillies?

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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Phillies get slugger Jay Bruce in trade with Mariners

Phillies get slugger Jay Bruce in trade with Mariners

Updated: 5:33 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – The Phillies have acquired veteran outfielder Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Class A third baseman Jake Scheiner. 

The Phillies will pay just $2.75 million of the $21 million left on Bruce’s contract, which runs through 2020. 

Bruce will join the Phillies in time for Monday night’s game in San Diego.

Scheiner was a fourth-round pick in 2017.

The Phillies are looking for Bruce to provide an upgrade to their bench. The 32-year-old slugger has 300 career homers, including 14 this season with the Mariners. Overall, he is hitting just .212 with an .816 OPS. He has 11 doubles, 28 RBIs and 53 strikeouts in 165 at-bats.

With Odubel Herrera’s uncertain future with the Phillies, Bruce could get some time in the outfield. It will not come in his customary right field because Bryce Harper is set there. Bruce could get some time in left field with Andrew McCutchen getting some reps in centerfield.

Bruce has just over $21 million left on his contract. The Phillies will pick up just $2.75 million. 

The Phillies are in no danger of reaching the $206 million luxury-tax threshold this season so the Bruce addition will not preclude other additions. The Phils are looking for pitching upgrades, both in the bullpen and the rotation (see story)

The Phillies will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster to get Bruce on board.

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Manny vs. Bryce, Santana signing not a mistake, more on Phillies' trade for Jean Segura

Manny vs. Bryce, Santana signing not a mistake, more on Phillies' trade for Jean Segura

The trade is complete. The Phillies have acquired two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura and two relief pitchers from the Mariners for infielders Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford (see story).

Let’s look at some of the particulars of the deal and offer a few thoughts. 

• Segura, who turns 29 in March, is signed through 2022 and owed about $60 million. The Phillies are taking on all of that money and the $9.25 million owed reliever Juan Nicasio. The Phils are also getting lefty reliever James Pazos in the deal.

The Mariners are taking on the $35 million that remains on Santana’s deal.

So the rebuilding Mariners saved about $35 million with the deal. There is value in that. 

• Once again, the Phillies used their greatest resource — money — in getting a deal done. Nicasio, who had an ERA of 6.00 last season, is clearly a salary dump, but the Phils are able to take him on (and hope he rebounds in 2019) because they really wanted Segura.

In recent years, the Phillies took on significant money in the trades that sent Cole Hamels to Texas, Jonathan Papelbon to Washington, Marlon Byrd to Cincinnati and Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Those deals netted the Phillies a number of prospects, some that did not pan out, but others such as Jorge Alfaro, Nick Pivetta, Nick Williams, Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff who have made varying contributions and still have upside.

• According to sources, the Phillies still hope to sign free agent Manny Machado and play him at third base. Should the Phils fail to sign Machado, they could look to someone like Mike Moustakas on a short-term deal at third before making a run at Nolan Arenado in July or next winter when he becomes a free agent. Maikel Franco is still with the club and there’s always the chance he could stay at third base, but the team has looked to trade him in the past and this seems like the time to make it happen. The Padres are a good fit.

• Trading Santana was a big offseason objective for the Phils because it allows Rhys Hoskins to get back to his natural position of first base. With Hoskins gone, who plays the outfield? Right now, it looks like Roman Quinn in center flanked by Nick Williams and Odubel Herrera, but there is still a chance the Phils could make a play for Bryce Harper, depending on how things shake out with Machado. The gut feel here is that the Phils have prioritized Machado because they like the idea of having him and Segura on the left side of their infield.

• There’s a lot of talk that GM Matt Klentak made a mistake in signing Santana and moving Hoskins to left field last year. This might be semantics, but mistake doesn’t seem like the right word to this observer. Klentak took a gamble that he could add some offense (power and on-base percentage) to his lineup by signing Santana and that necessitated taking a chance on Hoskins in left field. Well, Hoskins struggled defensively and Santana hit .229. That doesn’t mean Klentak’s experiment was a mistake; it means it just didn’t work. Pat Gillick used to say you can’t be afraid to take chances. Klentak took one. It didn’t pan out. Now, he’s done a pretty good job getting out of it quickly. He improved his offense (a lot) and defense at shortstop in the process and got a key player (Hoskins) back in his comfort zone. Good work.

By the way, if Santana had two more hits a month, he would have hit .250. One of the problems was he was paid like a star and is really a complementary player, sort of like Jayson Werth was on the great Phillies teams, minus the studs. But Santana is still a pretty good player and hats off to him for playing hard — and looking good at third base — until the end of the 2018 season while some of his mates shut it down as the losses piled up.

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