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Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Bruce Will Not Play For the Toronto Blue Jays

And now we go to a live shot of Blue Jays fans receiving the news that Jay Bruce has signed on to play for the New York Mets:

The weird thing is, Bruce is a fine player and three years and $39 million is a relatively fine price. And after a mid-career wobble possibly because of 2014 knee surgery (-0.8 WAR that year, then 0.2 WAR the following season), Bruce rebounded with a 33 HR, 111 wRC+ year in 2016 (just 0.9 WAR in 147 games though), and in 2017, thanks to a defensive uptick and a 118 wRC+ (plus a .324 OBP — his highest since 2014). He’s a flawed player, but certainly not a bad player. The Blue Jays might not make an outfield upgrade so good!

And yet… HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That’s a fuckin’ relief.

This will be the 59th post to mention Jay Bruce in the two year life of Blue Jays Nation, and holy piss, that’s way too much! Fifty nine times! For a player who has played at Rogers Centre just six time in his ten year, 1,416 game career in the big leagues. I mean… come on!

Of course, we know why he’s been a topic. The Jays almost traded for him in the spring of 2016. And not just that, the deal got so close — it was nixed by a failed physical (presumably, if not full-on reportedly, by Michael Saunders) — and widely reported on. Cue two years of hearing about the Jays being “expected to pursue” Bruce or some other such “nugget” of “information” based entirely on the fact that the connection was so easy to make.

I mean, with the deal a little back-loaded and the Mets so cheap, I guess it’s possible this isn’t the last time we’ll hear of it. Then again, with the Jays maaaaaaybe heading into a period where they’re not going to be bringing in quite so many veterans *COUGH*, or maybe about to find their own big money outfielder in the coming weeks (making it a moot point) *COUGH*, y’know… who knows? But what we do know is that, at the very fucking least for now, we can finally put this shit to bed.

Maybe even for longer!

Has there been a no-trade clause that didn’t have the Jays on it? Fingers crossed! Seems impossible a man willing to actually work for the Mets could ever have a problem with the Jays, but we can dream, can’t we?

Godspeed, Jay Bruce. Godspeed, Mets.

Best of all, godspeed fucking insufferable Jay Bruce rumours!

    • The Original Mark

      They’re essentially the same guy production-wise at the plate. Bruce can play the outfield (generally poorly) and Morales only plays first (generally poorly). I’d give Morale’s higher contact, switch hitting ability (if he actually can ever hit from the right side again), and lower annual cost the edge (but it’s close).

      All that to say I think you’re nuts to favour Bruce because of the extra year. That extra year is exactly what makes him worse than having Kendrys right now.

      • Agreed. Also, there’s maybe reason to be at least a little bit optimistic on Morales. Had this in my piece at the Athletic last week, but top 15 batters in average exit velocity in 2017, per Statcast (min. 200 batted ball events):

        Aaron Judge
        Nelson Cruz
        Joey Gallo
        Miguel Sano
        Khris Davis
        Giancarlo Stanton
        Paul Goldschmidt
        Ryan Zimmerman
        Kendrys Morales
        Miguel Cabrera
        Manny Machado
        Marcell Ozuna
        J.D. Martinez
        Josh Donaldson

        Also, xStats, which takes Statcast data and xStats says that, based on launch angle and exit velocity, Morales would have normally been expected to hit .272/.329/.490 in 2017 — about the same as Nick Castellanos and Corey Dickerson (guys who also obviously have defensive value that makes the much better than Morales, but nice hitters regardless). Granted, some of the reason his numbers are lower is that he was probably turning some expected doubles into singles and not beating out as many (any) ground balls, etc., but judging by the company he keeps at the top of that exit velocity list, it’s pretty difficult to hit the ball as hard as he does and be straight up *bad*. Or even *not really quite good at the very least*.

        Morales may well be the outlier on this, and certainly looked like it last season, but I suspect these sorts of numbers were a big reason the Jays were drawn to him, and as disappointing as his season last year was, some of the underlying skills that made him such a dangerous hitter in the past haven’t gone away. The dip in contact (from 87.9% of pitches in the zone in 2016 to 81.5%), however, is a concern. He needs to improve that to be the guy we need him to be, which isn’t a great situation. But it has quite a bit better chance for a positive outcome than a lot of people are willing to believe, I think.

        • Teddy Ballgame

          Just asking, because I don’t know…has there been a historical review on the correlation between average exit velocity vs production? Is it a useful predictive stat?

        • El Cabeza

          I remember hearing all about Morales 2016 exit velocity and how much playing in the Rog as opposed to the Kauf (no more douchey abbreviations, I promise) was going to make him a 2017 batting stud. Hopefully it was 2 years of bad luck and 2018 will be the season of Kendrys the stud.

          • Matty

            I thought Morales was due for a big year last year based on those batting metrics and said he would perform at EE’s level for less than half the cost. Ummmmm WRONG!

        • The Humungus

          I wonder if they note any correlations between exit velocity and ground ball/fly ball ratio.

          I ask only because the one thing I noticed in looking at Morales’ contact numbers during the season is that his ground ball % is nearly 50 every year of his career. To me, just using simple correlations, that reads like a guy who will be more and more effected by shifts as he slows with age, just by letting infielders play even further back because they have more time to make a good throw when he’s chugging down the line

  • uh…that’s really not that bad…if the jays had inked him for that, i think it would be fine. given their budget and (apparent) reticence to deal their top-end prospects, can we realistically think an equiv. player – costing the same or less – is coming? or a better player costing more (either in $$ or prospect capital)? i’m not whining about the jays’ inactivity thus far, and i certainly don’t want them to do a deal just for the sake of doing a deal…nor am i pining for a mediocre player. it would simply be nice to have some level of finality to their OF situation…and while cain – as an example – is a better overall player, bruce (slightly younger, LH bat) at 3/39 is a better option than cain would be (likely 5/100-120).

      • true, but if that’s the case, it would seem fairly obvious that both bo & vlad haven’t been tabled as options to go the other way in any deal (if either had, a deal would more than likely have been completed). so, just a matter of waiting out your trade partners.

        • AD

          I would trade Bo for yelich in a heartbeat. In fact, i think its silly that we heard the FO wont do it or is “unlikely”.Like they think bo is going to turn out better than yelich? Very risky and unlikely imo. Offer bo, connor greene, and gurriel. I think thats a package the marlins would strongly consider.

          • Mule or etc...

            I realized Kevin Pillar is this decade’s Lyle Overbay. An above-average regular who provides value at a decent salary but since he doesn’t provide that value in a traditional sense he gets shit all over by half of Jays fandom.

          • yeesh, the ‘yellich is a gawd’ crowd has certainly grown. look, he’s a really, really good player….who’s biggest single attribute is probably his contract.

            i guess where i differ is that i don’t necessarily see a gap between vlad & bo, and if you aren’t willing to entertain trading vlad (either singularly or in a package) for yellich, i’m not sure why you’d be so willing to deal bo. i may be in the minority, but i think bo has a really good chance (as far as prospects go) of being a perennial allstar.

    • ErnieWhitt

      Small quibble – but I’m not sure I’ve heard Cain mentioned to be in the 100-120 range. MLBTR has him predicted for 4/70 and used Dexter Fowler’s 5/82 as a comp. Cain is a year older than Fowler was. Even if it’s not a perfect comp that puts Cain somewhere in the 16-18M range for 4 years (as MLBTR predicts).. which if you’re giving me the choice between Jay Bruce at 3/39 (which I agree isn’t all that bad) and Cain for those terms, I much prefer Cain for the ways in which he could improve this team.

      • good point, i am speculating at the high end of the spectrum on cain, but my sense is that he/his agent are pushing for 5/100…if he was willing to take 4/70, i think he’d have signed already?? he may end up having to take that (or less) in the end, if the market is drier than they think.

    • hah, that’s crazy. both of their value is derived entirely on the offensive end, and bruce was worth 3 more wins last year than morales. he’s absolutely fine…this ridiculous narrative of how he’s not a decent, above-avg, quality player has gotten out of control (esp considering the deal he just signed for).

      just because he’s not the cherry we’re all hoping gets placed on the OF sundae doesn’t mean he’s terrible (i.e. on par with morales).

        • Just because something doesn’t happen doesn’t mean the *plan* was for it not to happen.

          Also, you have to try pretty hard to roast the FO for not magically getting younger over the course of one winter just because they mentioned it as a goal. You were shocked that perfect pieces to shape the roster exactly how they wanted to weren’t immediately and easily available? You new?

          • Teddy Ballgame

            PBG has it, Stoeten. I’m absolutely confident that Shatkins (Shatkins!) and the front office talent we have assembled are trying very hard to upgrade the outfield. But you can still be smart, have a good plan and all the best intentions, and make the wrong call or misread the market (such as what happened with Morales).

            That doesn’t mean I don’t like this front office, and don’t believe that given time they seem the exact executive group you want to build up a multi-year contender – although no guarantees, because baseball. But they can still whiff due to a risk aversion, an incorrect player evaluation, whatever.

            So to answer your question, I’m certain they are trying. But unless that big hole in the outfield ends up being plugged by a player (maybe a FA, maybe if we’re lucky someone like Alford) that ends up being able to a decent major leaguer like Bruce, I’ll still be nervous about the possibility that 2018 might be more fugly than we hope.

            Just because I’m positive about the long term doesn’t mean I can’t have reservations about the short term, you know?

          • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

            Give me a break. You said that saying they want to upgrade the OF is good enough. Words are great, but until they are put into play, they don’t mean a hell of a lot. So what if the *plan* was for something to happen. The *plan* was to have grass. As ridiculous as that was, it didn’t happen. I’m not beating up on the front office in anyway. I like them. But your point regarding the assurance of the front office is silly.

          • Having grass has never been the plan. Not for a second. It’s always been being “explored.” But be that as it may, where did I say merely wanting to upgrade the OF is good enough? My point is that the word “plan” has a meaning. When someone suggests they need assurances that the “plan” isn’t to just go with Carerra and Pearce, as though they haven’t made it clear they want to upgrade, it makes no sense. And I point this out this because, in my view, ensuring details like this are straight helps prevent people from entertaining the dumb idea that the front office is somehow acting in bad faith. That’s all I’m saying. Obviously going with Carrera and Pearce, unless they make a major, major upgrade elsewhere, is not going to be acceptable. And it’s just as obvious that it is not “the plan.”

          • They were definitely looking into it, commissioned a study from Waterloo (or Guelph), etc. But looking into the feasibility of it isn’t the same as planning to have it. I’m really just making a pretty small quibble about the language here.

    • Teddy Ballgame

      Yeah, badly phrased by me. Should have said “result.”

      I really, really wish we could get Disqus back (I always need to edit), but I’d imagine that’s a big thing.

  • Matty

    If the jays signed Bruce at this rate they would have had money left for another 5th starter type. Now with Cain the logical focus, (trying to decipher what trade options are available is useless) having Biagini as the #5 looks more likely.

    Cain would increase the ceiling whereas Bruce + starter + Biagini in AAA would increase the floor in my opinion.

    I prefer the Cain route right now

    • I think they’ll almost certainly add a starter ahead of Biagini (which — low bar — obviously doesn’t mean a great one). I also think it’s tough to see them adding Cain unless he really falls into their laps — which he might. The draft pick/pool money is surely a factor there, even if the cost comes down a bit. I’d like to see it, too though… relative to their other options. It’s not exactly perfect asking him to play in a corner, but he’d certainly do a lot of good.