New York Mets rumors about the outfield situation have been a big story since the 2016 MLB season came to a close. Many questions surrounded the Mets and what the team would do with an overabundance of healthy outfielders on the 25-man roster. A report by Ken Davidoff for the New York Post gives some concrete answers, including the fact that Jay Bruce will be the Opening Day right fielder for the Mets.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Mets picked up a team option for Bruce to return for the 2017 MLB season. This was done while Yoenis Cespedes was exploring free agency, with the idea that Bruce would serve as an insurance policy in case Cespedes signed with another team. When the Mets agreed to a long-term contract extension with Cespedes, it gave the team an overabundance of outfielders.
According to these latest New York Mets rumors, the team will have Yoenis Cespedes in left field, Curtis Granderson in center field, and Jay Bruce in right field against right-handed starting pitchers. When a left-hander is on the mound, Juan Lagares will take over for Granderson in center field. That will likely be the extent of outfielders used on the 25-man roster, giving the team more flexibility with the infield and relief pitchers.
These Mets rumors are extremely bad news for Michael Conforto, who may be sent back to Triple-A Las Vegas following spring training. While it’s still possible that the Mets could use him as an additional hitter off the bench, the lack of steady playing time would not help his progression. Some regression in his statistics already took place during the 2016 MLB season, creating a situation where some baseball analysts said he needed to work on things in the minors.
Another option with Conforto is to have him play some first base for the team, but Lucas Duda is returning from a back injury, penciling him in as the full-time first baseman for the team. With a salary of just about $7.3 million for the 2017 MLB season, it’s very unlikely that the front office in New York will put Duda on the bench. With Duda starting, that leaves even less space on the roster to give Conforto plate appearances.
Even though the team now has a plan to play Jay Bruce almost every day, it probably won’t completely end the New York Mets trade rumors. If Michael Conforto does well in spring training and continues to hit well in Triple-A, then it could create a difficult situation with the fans. Bruce is also entering the final year of his current contract, so he could become a trade chip as the summer MLB trade deadline approaches.
The Mets traded Max Wotell and Dilson Herrera to acquire Jay Bruce in August 2016. Bruce made 187 plate appearances over the final 50 games of the regular season, posting a 0.219 batting average, a 0.685 OPS, eight home runs, and 19 RBIS. Bruce also went 0-for-3 against the San Francisco Giants in the National League Wild Card Game. He enters the 2017 MLB season with a $13 million contract and a goal to return to the form that has made him a four-time All-Star in the National League.
A lot can still take place for the team during spring training, but all reports state that the Mets are going to head into Opening Day with the same primary components in the outfield. An outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce will also give the Mets one of the highest paid threesomes in Major League Baseball. With those paychecks will come an expectation of performance from the front office, especially if Michael Conforto is just waiting in Triple-A. For now, the New York Mets rumors will quiet down, but fans should expect them to resurface later on.
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