It was clear by the time the non-waiver trade deadline ended that Sandy Alderson was in rebuilding mode. He was preparing the Mets for next season by dropping a few pounds from the team. In a somewhat surprising move, Sandy cut a hoss in Jay Bruce by trading him to the Cleveland Indians. In return, the Mets received the Tribe’s unranked pitching prospect, Ryder Ryan. Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the news.
This move looks controversial to some, due to Ryan’s numbers. By controversial, I mean bad. A 30th-round selection by the Indians in the MLB Draft, the 22-year old Ryan had a 4.79 ERA in 33 games for the Indians’ Class A organization this season. He was 3-4 with six saves and had 49 strikeouts. While the stats don’t look sexy now, Sandy is gambling on him to be a major part of a bullpen that needs a facelift. Alderson has already made major moves to acquire relievers for the team: He traded Lucas Duda to the Rays for Drew Smith, two prospects for AJ Ramos, and Addison Reed for the trio of Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan and Gerson Bautista.
For Jay Bruce, he has a chance to show his worth. This season, Jay is hitting .258 with 29 home runs and 75 RBIs. He joins an Indians team riddled with injuries, especially in the outfield. With Michael Brantley (sprained ankle) and Lonnie Chisenhall (strained calf) out, Bruce is the perfect fit for a contending Indians team. Jay joined the Mets last season in a trade and struggled mightily, hitting .219 in 50 games. He has turned it around this season, garnering a lot of respect by the Mets faithful. Bruce left on good terms, praising the team and the fanbase.
The main part of this deal may have been about money. Cleveland is absorbing the remaining $4.2 million that is left in Bruce’s $13 million salary. A free agent after this season, Bruce has an option to return to the Mets. The team was not looking for a qualifying offer deal, which would have been reportedly over $18 million. In total, the Mets have saved up to $10.6 million thanks to their trades. While a “cheap way out”, a Bruce trade seemed inevitable. While it sounds a bit out there, that is how the team does business. Furthermore, and more importantly, that’s how the Wilpon’s do business.
An interesting piece of information was the involvement of the Mets’ cross-town rivals. The Yankees showed interested in Bruce, even offering two highly-touted prospects for him. However, they were only reportedly offering $1 million in salary relief. This was the second time the Yankees were close on a deal with the Mets. The first instance involved Lucas Duda.
As a result of trading Bruce, the door may finally be open for first base prospect Dominic Smith. On the Mets, Bruce was an insurance policy first baseman. Smith is hitting .329 with a .904 OPS for Triple-A Las Vegas. While Sandy has indicated we may see Smith before the end of August, this move could move up his inevitable promotion. The clock is ticking closer and closer to decision time.
Sandy might just be getting started. Asdrubal Cabrera and Curtis Granderson have drawn interest from teams. Will the “Baseball Maverick” make small deals for small players like he has recently done? The way he’s been making moves, anything is possible at this point.