Mets trade OF Jay Bruce to Indians for minor-league prospect
BYKristie Ackert
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017, 1:43 AM
The Mets traded Jay Bruce to the Indians Wednesday

For almost nine months, the Mets were looking to deal Jay Bruce. They came close several times, reportedly talking to the Phillies over the winter and the Yankees and Indians recently. Wednesday night, however, the Mets finally found a taker.

They sent the 30-year-old outfielder and his salary to Cleveland and in return they added to their growing collection of young, right-handed relieving prospects as they continue to sell off their disappointing 2017 team.

The Indians sent back righthander Ryder Ryan and took over the remainder of Bruce’s 2017 salary, which is reportedly around $5 million.

The Mets are high on Ryan, who has had an unusual path to being considered a pitching prospect. They consider the college infielder to have a “high ceiling.”

They are also high on ridding themselves of veteran salaries now that they have turned the page on this season and are looking towards 2018.

The Mets and Yankees were engaged in talks about Bruce as late as Wednesday morning, a team source confirmed. The Yankees were reportedly willing to send multiple prospects for the outfielder, but wanted the Mets to cover some of Bruce’s remaining salary, according to an industry source.

Salary may not have been the only sticking point.

The Mets were also engaged with the Yankees on a trade for Lucas Duda this year, but instead sent him to Tampa. It is not unusual for the Mets not to deal with their crosstown rivals. The Mets and Yankees have done just 16 deals, the last being a 2014 trade sending Gonzalez German to the Bronx.

The Yankees weren’t sure what to make of the Mets’ deal with the Indians, sources told the News, and, at least privately, they wondered if Met management was instructed not to do business with the Yankees at all. And there are certainly questions if the Mets got the best return they could after not wanting to deal with the Bombers.

Bruce said he was excited when the Mets picked up his option last November, thinking this would be a World Series team. He said last month he understood the Mets would be crazy not to try to flip him for a piece to build their future around. Wednesday night, he thanked Met fans before moving on to chase the playoffs with the Indians.

“While I wasn’t able to be part of what we all thought was going to be an amazing season, I more than enjoyed my time as a Met and I appreciate the supp ort of all the fans. You were passionate and sincere, and as a baseball player, that’s what you hope for. Thank you.”

The Indians were certainly in need of a power-hitting outfielder.

The Mets traded Jay Bruce to the Indians Wednesday

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Looking to hold off the Royals in the American League Central, the Indians’ need became more urgent last week when Michael Brantley went on the disabled list with a right ankle injury.

The Mets are also still looking to move some of their other veterans’ salaries. Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are all candidates to be moved as the Mets try to clear their payroll and prepare for 2018.

Ryan is an interesting prospect. Though he was drafted out of high school by the Indians in the 40th round as a pitcher, he did not sign. Instead, he went to the University of North Carolina where he played third base. Ryan pitched just one inning in college.

“He’s a raw talent,” said the scout. “He pitches in the low 90s. He has command issues, not consistent, but that comes with not having pitched. He’s athletic and is a ways away.”

Ryan was the Indians’ 30th round pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of North Carolina. They drafted him as a pitcher.

He pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year and is in low Class-A at the moment. In 33 appearances this season, the 22-year-old has allowed 22 earned runs over 41.1 innings for a 4.79 ERA.

Ryan represents yet another right-handed pitching prospect in an early attempt to bulk up the club’s future bullpen. Sandy Alderson made a deal to bring in set-up man AJ Ramos before last week’s deadline in anticipation of trading Addison Reed. The Mets also acquired righthander Drew Smith from the Rays in a deal for first baseman Lucas Duda and three 22-year-old right-handed relieving prospects — Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek — for Reed.

Coming from the Reds at the 2016 trade deadline, the Mets picked up the $13 million option on Bruce’s contract as insurance against Yoenis Cespedes opting out of his contract.

Cespedes opted out and re-signed, and the Mets had shopped Bruce and his $13 million contract ever since. Since the beginning of 2017, however, the 30-year-old has been the steady engine in the Mets lineup. He takes his 29 home runs and 75 RBI to the Indians and joins their pennant race.

The Mets mulled offering Bruce a qualifying offer as a free agent after this season, reportedly for over $18 million for one year, if they could not get a decent return on him. There was also the possibility of Bruce returning on a free-agent deal.

But with the Mets now shedding salaries, they will likely turn to Juan Lagares, who is ready to come off the disabled list, and Dom Smith, the power-hitting first base prospect waiting in the wings. Lagares played his eighth minor league rehab game Wednesday night.  

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