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Mets, desperate for a clutch bat, jump on Jay Bruce

NEW YORK — The New York Mets are poised to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds. The package the Mets will send back will include 23-year-old outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

Here is a look at relevant questions related to the deal:

Why Bruce? With Curtis Granderson signed for one more season and Michael Conforto under control for five more years, why exactly did the Mets need another lefty-hitting corner outfielder? Well, with the Mets unable to land catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers, they clearly felt getting the best bat they could was a priority, regardless of position. The Mets rank last in the majors in batting average with runners in scoring position at .206. Bruce this season is hitting .360 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 89 at-bats in those situations. Overall, Bruce is batting .265 with 20 homers and an NL-leading 80 RBIs. So Yoenis Cespedes and Bruce can man the corner outfield spots, with manager Terry Collins likely to use Conforto and Granderson in center field (along with recently signed Justin Ruggiano). Is that optimal defensively? Not in the least. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to score some runs.

How long do the Mets have Bruce? The Mets will have a team option on Bruce for next season at $13 million. The good news is that gives them a hedge if Cespedes opts out after this season, which seems like the financially prudent thing to do. Cespedes signed a three-year, $75 million deal during the offseason that pays him $27.5 million this year. So, if he doesn’t opt out, he is agreeing to stay with the Mets for two years at $47.5 million. That would not be fiscally smart. Even minus Cespedes, the Mets would have Bruce, Conforto and Granderson to man the corners next year.

Didn’t the Mets almost land Bruce before? Why, yes. After the Mets backed out of the deal with the Brewers for Carlos Gomez on July 29 of last season over concern about Gomez’s hip, team officials pivoted to Bruce and thought they had struck a deal for Zack Wheeler. However, the Reds backed out. That worked out pretty well for the Mets. They pivoted again to Cespedes, who carried them to the World Series, although the trade did send Michael Fulmer to the Detroit Tigers.

What did Mets give up? Nimmo and others will be included in the deal. Nimmo was the first pick of the Sandy Alderson regime — 13th overall in 2011 out of high school in Wyoming. He’s viewed more as a corner guy and a fourth outfielder by some scouts, but can play center field and play every day on a second-division team. In the majors, Nimmo is hitting .236/.300/.291 in 60 plate appearances.


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