Baseball’s hot stove has functioned more as a lukewarm cooktop this offseason, but on Wednesday evening, fans were treated to a nugget of significant free agent news.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Jay Bruce agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the New York Mets that will force the San Francisco Giants to consider other options in the outfield.
Jay Bruce's deal is for three years and $39M.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 11, 2018
The Giants were reportedly interested in Bruce, but the 30-year-old outfielder wasn’t necessarily a great fit for a San Francisco team looking to add power and stay under the competitive balance tax threshold next year. The average annual value of Bruce’s deal is $13 million, which would have swallowed up nearly the entire pool of money the Giants have left to add to their payroll this offseason. Additionally, San Francisco is looking to improve its defense and add a right-handed power hitter to its lineup, and Bruce is merely an average defender who hits from the left side.
The Giants have been tied to Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen over the past several days, and general manager Bobby Evans could look to swing a trade for Pittsburgh’s franchise cornerstone that would keep the Giants from taking on all $14.5 million McCutchen is owed in 2018. Evans may also turn to other National League Central clubs like the Milwaukee Brewers or St. Louis Cardinals in an effort to trade for outfield help.
Bruce’s contract is the largest paid out to a free agent outfielder thus far this offseason, but J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain are both expected to command more significant contracts. The Giants have been linked to Martinez and Cain, but signing either player remains unlikely due to luxury tax concerns.