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Mets Bring Back Jay Bruce on Three-Year Deal

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The New York Mets signed free agent Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million deal on Wednesday. Of all the possible teams the 30-year-old outfielder could have signed with, the Mets are one that will give him the opportunity to play every day.

Bruce experienced a mini-bounce back in 2017, having one of the best seasons of this career. He hit .254/.324/.508 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI, with most of the damage coming with the Mets. I expect similar production this season, as he should be hitting in the middle of the same lineup, at the same home park, and against the same opponents. Projections have him regressing quite a bit, but some 2017 changes to his launch angle should keep his power up. Here are his launch angles and groundball rates over the past three seasons (since detailed batted ball data has been available).

Season LA (deg) GB%
2015 14.9 37.0%
2016 14.6 37.1%
2017 18.2 32.5%

The extra flyballs helped him hit a career-high 36 home runs in 2017.

The big loser of this signing, at least for 2018, will be one of Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. With Conforto sidelined to start the season as he recovers from left shoulder surgery, the Mets’ outfield looks to be Bruce, Nimmo, and Yoenis Cespedes on Opening Day. When Conforto returns, I would guess Nimmo heads to the bench. Then again, this is the Mets we’re talking about, and the front office’s job seems to be screwing over Conforto as much as possible, so anything can happen.

Here’s how I’m going to handle the situation: I’m not going to own Conforto unless he’s a $1 guy or a reserve pick. Currently, he’s being drafted at 139th overall and as the 32nd outfielder, which is way too rich considering the uncertainties surround him. He’s being drafted as a high No. 3 outfielder in 15-team leagues. However, it’s not clear when he’ll come back and how productive he’ll be when he does return. Plus, if Nimmo is hitting decently, that could impact Conforto’s playing time, too. I’d rather own a bat without so many question marks surrounding him.

Previous Hot Stove Analysis

Toronto Acquires Yangervis Solarte from San Diego

Royals, Dodgers, and White Sox Complete Three-Way Trade

Rockies Fill Closer Vacancy with Wade Davis

Arizona Adds Bullpen Depth with Yoshihisa Hirano

Indians Fill First-Base Void with Yonder Alonso

Brewers Bolster Rotation with Jhoulys Chacin

Orioles Lose Zach Britton, Brad Brach Likely Closer

Giants Add Evan Longoria, Rays Create a Mess

Red Sox Bring Back Mitch Moreland

CC Sabathia Returns to Yankees

Dodgers-Braves Make Five-Player Trade

Angels in the Infield: Zack Cozart Signs with Los Angeles

Phillies Ink Carlos Santana to Three-Year Deal

Everyone’s Signing Relievers, But Who Will Close?

Angels Trade for Ian Kinsler

Cardinals Finally Get Their Marlins Outfielder

Cubs and Twins Gamble on Smyly and Pineda

Chase Headley Gets Dumped on Padres

Cubs and Cardinals Add Potential Closers

Giancarlo Stanton Joins Yankees

Rockies Sign Chris Iannetta

Angels Land Shohei Ohtani

Tigers Sign Mike Fiers

Dee Gordon Traded to Mariners

Cubs Sign Tyler Chatwood

Rangers Sign Mike Minor

Welington Castillo Inks Deal with White Sox

Potential Closers Traded: Boxberger and Johnson

Doug Fister Signs with Rangers

Ryon Healy Traded to Mariners

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