The New York Mets are taking their time and doing their research before they acquire a bat before the trade deadline. Rumors have linked them to a number of capable players and there's a new name being thrown around.
That would be Cincinnati Reds' outfielder Jay Bruce.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post says "there are calls to obtain" Bruce before the deadline, but because he is a corner outfielder it could put general manager Sandy Alderson in a tough spot because it'll affect the playing time of fellow veteran Michael Cuddyer.
But that should be the least of Alderson's worries.
New York's anemic offense is in desperate need of power and Bruce can help out in that department as he carries a .251/.341/.465 stat line with 35 runs scored, 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 84 games this season. He's so far rebounding well from an awful 2013 season.
ESPN Insider Buster Olney mentioned on Sunday that the Reds have made Bruce "available for awhile" and Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted last night that there are "widespread rumblings of changes in the Reds organization in the days after the All-Star Game."
Alderson said he'd be "willing to overpay" for a bat before the deadline, but the good news is that he may not have to do so to acquire Bruce (if he's interested). Candidates subject to a high price tag (who would be a fit for the Mets and were also linked to them in rumors) are Oakland Athletics' utility man Ben Zobrist, San Diego Padres' outfielder Justin Upton, Milwaukee Brewers' shortstop Jean Segura and others. All of those players are rentals as well.
Bruce is owed $12 million this season, $12.5 million next season and has a $13 million team option (or a $1 million buyout) in 2017. His trade value isn't awfully high either because of his declining play over the past two seasons and the Mets have plenty of prospects in various levels of the minors that would interest Cincinnati.
"Which brings us to what the Mets truly are willing to move to make a deal," adds Sherman. "They do not want to trade their controllable young starters (think Syndergaard and Steven Matz) or Michael Conforto."
Great, because Bruce likely wouldn't command prospects/rookies of that caliber.
The uncertainty of David Wright's return and the mysterious constant swelling of Cuddyer's knee (in addition to his poor offensive production) could spur a move for Bruce, if not another middle-of-the-order bat.
There was previous talk (per Sherman) of the Mets trading for a left-handed outfield bat that can hit right-handed pitching. If the team were to consider deals for Will Venable (SDP), Gerardo Parra (MIL), David Peralta (ARI), Seth Smith (SEA) and Brock Holt (BOS), there's little reason why Bruce wouldn't also be on that list.
Bruce isn't blowing the competition away against right-handers, but he has a .775 OPS with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs when facing them this season.
The only argument is that Bruce wouldn't drastically improve their offensive production. He would certainly provide some padding for others, such as Lucas Duda, who has been victimized as a result of the other struggling hitters, but he probably wouldn't propel the team's offense to the next level.
Nonetheless, keep an eye on where Bruce might land within the next couple of weeks. Maybe the Mets are considering multiple deals and Bruce is part of those discussions.