Ever since the New York Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes back in the summer of 2015, there has been a logjam in the outfield. The Mets recently signed Cespedes to a four-year contract that will keep him in New York until 2020, making this debate in the outfield an ongoing discussion. With the Winter Meetings getting underway next week, the Mets have been listening on trade offers for outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.
The popular move seems to be trading Bruce, who struggled in his few months with the team rather, than a fan favorite in Granderson. In 50 games with the Mets, Bruce batted .219 with an OPS of .685, 190 points lower than his OPS with the Cincinnati Reds before he arrived. He also led the National League with 80 RBIs and made his third All-Star appearance, showing Bruce’s offensive abilities when he is playing well.
Granderson is 35 years old and does not appear to be in the Mets’ long-term plans with his contract expiring at the end of 2017. Bruce is six years younger than Granderson, and the Mets this offseason picked up his club option worth $13 million.
One of them most likely will be traded, and the smarter move for the Mets would be to trade Granderson. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, Granderson is drawing more interest on the trade market than Bruce.
I’d predict that the ceiling for Bruce to produce in 2017 is greater than the ceiling for Granderson. Bruce really struggled with the Mets, and was still able to put up a season of 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs. Despite having a disastrous August, Bruce hit .263 with six home runs in the month of September. In 2014, Bruce’s worst year, he proved that he can bounce back by hitting 26 home runs and a .729 OPS. More pitchers would fear Bruce with his ability to drive in runs in the middle of the order more than they would Granderson. Also, Bruce would be able slide into the cleanup spot behind Cespedes, which would force pitchers to pitch to Cespedes because Bruce is so effective with runners on base. Bruce also has shown that with the Reds, hitting behind Joey Votto.
The Mets would be losing something defensively with the departure of Granderson, but they can work out a platoon with Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto. Conforto is more known for his offensive skill set, but towards the end of the season he thrived in his six appearances in center field. He also made an outstanding diving catch in his first career start in center.
For the Mets to move on from Bruce this early into his tenure with the team would make little sense. Especially when reports are swirling that Granderson can bring back a larger return. Bruce was traded for one of the Mets’ top prospects in Dilson Herrera, and it would be a bad look for the Mets to move him for someone whose club option was declined. When Jose Reyes became the team’s primary leadoff hitter, Granderson’s role changed drastically, and the days of Granderson hitting third or fourth on a postseason team are in the past.
Granderson could very well be moving on from the team this offseason, and by keeping Bruce, it gives him an audition to see if he can handle New York and be their right fielder for the future. Sometimes the toughest moves to make are the smartest moves, and that is the case here by moving on from Curtis Granderson and keeping Jay Bruce.