In a quiet MLB offseason, the New York Mets took advantage and struck a deal to bring back outfielder Jay Bruce. On Wednesday night, Bruce agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal to return to the team he played 153 games for between the 2016 and '17 seasons. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first reported word of the agreement.
Bruce's arrival back in New York marks the second biggest bat to sign in free agency this offseason. He signs with a Mets team where he combined to post a .250/.316/.483 slash line, 110 wRC+, 35 home runs and .233 ISO in 610 plate appearances.
New York traded Bruce to the Cleveland Indians on August 9 last season and acquired 22-year-old righty Ryder Ryan in exchange for half a season of Bruce's services.
During his brief tenure in Cleveland, Bruce hit seven home runs and finished with a .248/.331/.477 slash line to go along with a 111 wRC+. But Bruce's power before that, namely his 29 home runs in 448 plate appearances this season for New York, drew the Mets' attention.
Looking ahead at Bruce's upcoming tenure in New York, there's certainly some reason for fantasy optimism. The Mets will primarily use Bruce in right field again this season, but the New York Post's Mike Puma reported Bruce will also see time at first base.
Bruce's move back to Citi Field should help him fairly well. Of the 30-year-old's 69 home runs in the last two seasons, 50 went to right field or right-center field. Now he'll play at a park where the wall in right field is 330 feet away with all the walls in right field only 8 ft. high.
He'll find himself in the middle of a Mets' lineup that could use more help. While Yoenis Cespedes remains strong at the plate, Bruce and Cespedes will be surrounded by Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores.
The situation can be improved if New York adds a Josh Harrison-like player or commits to Michael Conforto, but there are some holes in New York's lineup.
If Bruce can lock up 1B eligibility in addition to his outfield eligibility, Bruce's 30-plus home runs and 80-plus RBIs could make him a top-100 fantasy player next season.