The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets have stayed in talks regarding outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, according to a report from Jon Morosi.
Toronto remains in the market for at least one outfielder after Dexter Fowler signed with the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the month, and they have been linked to one of the Mets’ excess outfielders throughout the off-season.
As the Blue Jays’ roster currently stands, some combination of Steve Pearce, Melvin Upton Jr., Ezequiel Carrera, and Dalton Pompey would be manning the corner outfields.
Rosenthal’s report for FOX Sports details how the Mets have held “preliminary talks” with the Pittsburgh Pirates regarding Andrew McCutchen, but clarifies that those reports have been “off and on with no apparent momentum”.
New York’s outfield is not short on options with Bruce, Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, and the 23-year-old Michael Conforto, but all four of these players profile in left or right field. In centre, Rosenthal suggests that the Mets are looking at Juan Lagares as their top option.
Lagares, 27, owns a career MLB line of .259 / .298 / .366 (.664 OPS) over four Major League seasons. After breaking out with a 3.9 WAR in 2014 due largely to some excellent defensive metrics, Lagares has posted back-to-back WARs of 0.9.
Bruce’s link to the Blue Jays is old news that needs little retelling. A deeply flawed defensive outfielder with power — especially against right-handed pitching — Bruce would offer the Blue Jays a good-not-great bat if properly platooned. His $13 million salary for 2016, however, is a difficult addition.
Granderson, on the other hand, offers more of a complete game but is also pricey with a $15 million salary. The veteran, who will turn 36 in March, posted a .799 OPS last season with 30 home runs.
In any negotiations with the Mets, New York’s urgency to make a move would be one of Toronto’s strongest bargaining chips. If New York is hoping to free salary for a centre-fielder or bullpen piece, they’d prefer to do that first before shopping elsewhere.
It’s important to note, though, that the two reports in Morosi’s tweet are separate and not a direct link of New York to Toronto’s centre-fielders.
Obviously, the Blue Jays do have Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey, but Pillar’s value remains high to a team that may need to win more games by scores of 2-1 and 4-3 in the season ahead (his very affordable salary helps, too). Pompey could be ready to offer some moderate value to an MLB roster with his speed and defence alone, but a contending team is likely to be seeking greater certainty.