The Seattle Mariners and Jay Bruce… What the?
Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports has connected Jay Bruce to the Seattle Mariners… kind of. The report, which you can read here , casually mentions that the team is looking for outfield help, and both Lorenzo Cain and Jay Bruce ” could work”.
To say this is a link of any kind between the Mariners and the former Reds, Mets, and Indians outfielder is a stretch. But what it is, is a highly respected baseball reporter suggesting that Bruce and Seattle might be a possibility.
However; Jay Bruce should not even be in consideration for Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto at this moment. It is hard to image a worse fit in Dipoto’s imagined outfield model. Dipoto craves athletic, quick, defensive minded outfielders who can do more than hit homers. Jay Bruce is none of these things.
Lets begin with the basic player profile of Jay Bruce. Bruce is a left-handed, soon to be 31-year-old outfielder. A former first round pick, Bruce’s power has been his calling card. He has hit 30 home runs 5 times in his career. He slugged a career high 36 in 2017.
While adding a dose of power to the middle of the Mariners lineup seems promising, there are a few problems with Bruce fit in Seattle. Bruce has a career .319 on-base percentage. While not horrible, a year at that mark would have ranked only 10th on the 2017 Seattle Mariners roster.
Perhaps the biggest red flag with Bruce, is his pedestrian defense. Bruce hasn’t produced a positive defensive score (via Fangraphs) since 2013. Bruce provides no value to the team with his defense, and hurts the team on the base paths.
Dipoto has yet to really invest in any one-dimensional offensive threat, instead opting for players who can help with their speed and defense when the bat goes cold. If the Mariners believe Bruce can be their first baseman, this could be an interesting opportunity. Bruce has played just 15 career games at first.
Bruce is reportedly looking for a 5 year deal worth between $90-$100 million. If the market is willing to pony up this contract to Bruce, the team is much better off spending their money on a center fielder like Lorenzo Cain.
If the Mariners think Bruce can play first, there is upside if he can be signed for a Josh Reddick type of deal. Reddick is a decent comparison for Bruce, as both enter free agency at age 31. Unlike Bruce, Reddick uses his solid base running and defense, and has the same career wRC+ as Bruce (108).
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Reddick signed a 4 year, $52 million deal last off-season. If Bruce is willing to be more realistic in his demands, perhaps their could be a fit in Seattle.