Yesterday, the Mets said they intend to keep Jay Bruce as their starting rightfielder. This would push Michael Conforto to a bench role. Ever since the Mets re-signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in November, the team had been looking to trade Bruce in order to save money as well as to clear up an already crowded outfield.
Just because the Mets said they intend to keep Bruce doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be traded. General manager Sandy Alderson said the same thing about R.A. Dickey shortly after winning the 2012 N.L. Cy Young Award, but traded him away not long after making this statement. However, it seems unlikely that the Mets would find a suitable trade partner for Bruce at this point. The only teams connected to him at this point that haven’t found an outfielder or DH are the Rangers and Giants. In the case of the Rangers, it seems likely that they will be getting Mike Napoli instead of Jay Bruce. As for the Giants, they may just try to sign a less expensive outfielder on the free agent market since they want to lower their payroll.
If the Mets are truly in a win-now state of mind, they shouldn’t be worrying about trying to lower the payroll by trading Bruce. They also shouldn’t let the fact that they are keeping Bruce affect who they want to sign to bolster the bullpen. They should still be trying to re-sign Jerry Blevins and either re-sign Fernando Salas or sign Sergio Romo. Considering the fact that this is a team with one of the best pitching rotations in all of baseball, they have a good shot at competing for the playoffs. Adding a couple of bullpen arms may be the key to the Mets making a return to the Fall Classic. If the team plays well, people will pay for seats to the game. Money shouldn’t be as big of an issue when the only moves necessary at this point are to sign relievers that may be able to start the season as the 7th and 8th inning guys.
It’s no secret that Blevins wants to return to the Mets, and that the Mets want to bring him back. At this point, Blevins likely won’t receive the 3-year deal he wanted. If the Mets offer him a 2-year deal or a decent 1-year deal, Blevins may be willing to take it. The remaining free agents will likely lower their asking prices more and more as spring training draws closer with each passing day. The time for the Mets to act on signing relievers is now. Money shouldn’t get in the way at this point from possibly putting on the finishing touches of a team with the potential to win it all in 2017. For Alderson and the free agents, time is ticking.