The hot stove for baseball has barely heated up at all in the New Year. To quote M.O.P., it has been as “Cold as Ice.” There was finally some progress on Wednesday as the Mets signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million contract.
It’s not one of the blockbuster names we have been waiting for, but at least something has happened. Bruce is one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball. He has also proven he can handle playing in New York.
Bruce started last season with the Mets before being traded to the Indians. He batted .254 with 82 runs, 36 home runs and 101 RBIs. Bruce has hit at least 30 home runs in five of the last seven seasons. Bruce isn’t going to help in the average category, but with average down across baseball, he’s not a detriment either. He’s a career .249 hitter and has batted at least .250 in two straight seasons.
Bruce takes a hit in on-base percentage leagues with a career mark of .319. Bruce isn’t a big name and tends to be a bargain in drafts. While power was way up last season, it still means you need a lot of home runs to finish near the top. It was easier to find home runs on the waiver wire, but it doesn’t mean you can address other scarce categories earlier in drafts and wait on power.
Bruce has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 165.97 on Fantrax, which is in the 13th round of a 12-team league. That’s a good value for a player who produces consistent numbers. Bruce could also play some first base. He played 12 games at first base last season and the Mets could have a crowded outfield when Michael Conforto is healthy. Conforto had left shoulder surgery in September and might not be ready for Opening Day.
For those teams that take a few starting pitchers in the early rounds or a Billy Hamilton or Dee Gordon in the first few rounds, you will be playing catch up in the home run category. Bruce is a nice fit for those teams in the middle rounds. He’s a veteran who doesn’t have upside, but is reliable and consistent. Those type of players tend to go overlooked and make nice bargains on draft day.