Hey baseball fans, welcome to Rumor Has It, the brand new series that might not actually turn into one even though it is literally just beginning. A series that looks at, well, a specific MLB rumor and breaks it down. Pretty self-explanatory. And if you didn’t notice above, you’re in for a real treat because we’re talking about Jay Bruce today.
What? I never said the treat was for everybody. Is it for anybody? That’s for you to decide.
Unless you slept through the news Tuesday afternoon, Yoenis CA�spedes re-upped with the New York Mets. Good for CA�spedes, good for the Mets, and especially good for contenta��particularly here and here. But now that New York has sorted this out, it’s time to move on to the rest of their outfield.
Specifically Bruce, who is reportedly drawing a�?stronga�? interest from the Toronto Blue Jays. I mean, it’s either him or the other guy from Jon Heyman’s report: Dexter Fowler. No difference there. After all, Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with an .840 OPS while Bruce slashed .250/.309/.506 with an .815 OPSa��but just .219/.294/.391 (.685 OPS) after moving from the Reds to the Mets. And hey, Fowler was worth 4.7 fWAR compared to Bruce’s 0.9 mark.
It’s no wonder we’re struggling to see the diffa��wait, no, they’re not similar in the slightest. Defensive metrics may not look favorably on Fowler, but they glare at Bruce. Fowler is currently a free agent while Bruce will make $13 million in 2017. That’ considerably less (presumably) than what Fowler will seek to make over the next four, possibly five seasons.
On a very basic level, of course the Blue Jays would have interest in Fowler. Most (if not all) contending teams will be. They’re on the brink of losing both Edwin EncarnaciA?n and JosA� Bautista; obviously they’re going to do something. They started by adding Kendrys Morales for three years at $33 million a couple weeks ago, but they’re not done.
But the gap between Fowler and Bruce is quite large. The latter will probably hit dingers, but $13 million is a lot of money for someone who does little else. Fowler will play better defense, hit the baseball more consistently, and get on base at a markedly higher rate. But I’m sure Toronto’s interest in Bruce is also genuine. Again, he’s a bat and they’re losing at least one (if not two) very important ones.
EncarnaciA?n and Bautista accounted for $24 million in ’16, and Toronto’s overall payroll was just north of $135 million. Taking on Bruce for the year would be better from a financial standpoint, but they’re still built to win now. But Fowlera��while likely a greater financial burdena��is better for the whole ‘hey let’s maybe win a championship now’ sorta thing.
They have Josh Donaldson for $17 million in 2017, but nothing’s guaranteed after that. Russell Martin is getting $20 million per year over the next three seasons, as is Troy Tulowitzki. So the question becomes: can Toronto afford another big-money, multi-year contract? They’ve been in on EncarnaciA?n for the duration of the offseason, which would mean the answer is yes.
So if the decision comes down to Jay Bruce and Dexter Fowler, I know who I’m making the a�?strong pusha�? for.