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Phillies make deal with Mariners for Jay Bruce

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The bench bat could be in L.A. for the series finale with the Dodgers.

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

UPDATE:

FROM EARLIER:

If you’ve been watching this series with the Dodgers and thinking, “Hey, this team is one bench bat away from taking down the league leaders,” there seems to be some good news for you:

FROM EVEN EARLIER:

Conflicting news has broken regarding the Phillies getting a deal done with the Mariners to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce. This is no doubt a reaction to the recent Odubel Herrera news and his forced leave that quickly followed. The Phillies find themselves with a shortened bench and that may be where Bruce is headed.

Bruce, 32, is having a bit of a power resurgences this year having belted 14 home runs already. Last season as a Met Bruce hit only nine home runs in his 319 at-bats; his 14 this year have come in 165 AB’s, just over half of last years total. However, while the power is present Bruce isn’t hitting or getting on-base particularly well posting a .212 batting average and a miniscule .283 on-base-percentage. At .813 his OPS is respectable but it isseverely buoyed by the power.

Primarily a right fielder it appears that an acquisition of Bruce would be mainly to bolster the bench by giving the Phillies the sorely needed left-handed power option that they currently lack. Nick Williams isn’t having the same impact off the bench this season as he experienced last year when he hit .333/.385/.611 with three home runs as a substitute. As it currently is the Phillies left-handed options off the bench are either Williams or back-up catcher Andrew Knapp, neither a true threat of any kind let alone power.

For clarification, Bruce has 1514 games played in the majors and all but 105 of them were as a right fielder. He has 52 games at first base where he’s somehow managed to accumulate seven errors, or about one in every eight games.

What isn’t known and what may be the sticking point in getting the deal done is what would go back to the Mariners. Bruce is being fairly significantly overpaid by the Mariners and the contract isn’t over at the end of 2019 either. He makes $14M this year and is owed another $14M for 2020. At that price the Phillies shouldn’t be expected to send much back at all. The question needs to be asked “How did Bruce get a two year, $28M deal coming off a season where he hit .223/.310/.370 with only nine home runs?” For context, he is the 14thhighest paid outfielder in the sport, tied with Lorenzo Cain.

The Phillies have worked hard to stay out of this kind of situation so it may be a bit strange to see them trade into one.

It should be stated that there are a bit of conflicting reports, where MLB.com writes “They are reportedly close to a deal” and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets “they are not far enough along that a deal is imminent.”