Despite some uncertainty about acquiring Jay Bruce earlier in the day, the Mets completed a trade with the Reds to acquire the slugging outfielder, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan confirmed. The Reds were reportedly concerned with the medical records of a minor leaguer included in the original proposal — later confirmed to be pitcher Chris Flexen — and both clubs agreed to rework the trade.
Mets’ No. 5 ranked prospect by MLB Brandon Nimmo was originally the centerpiece of the deal. However, the outfielder, as first reported by Newsday‘s Marc Carig, will remain with the Amazin’s. Instead, second baseman Dilson Herrera — along with Max Wotell, the Mets’ No.16 prospect who was in the original deal — is going to Cincinnati as the centerpiece, MLB’s Jonathan Mayo reported.
Herrera, 22, was viewed by many as a potential long-term solution at the keystone for the Mets. Originally acquired from the Pirates along with Vic Black and a player to be named later in exchange for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, Herrera quickly ascended the Mets’ minor league ranks.
In 2014, he came the first player in franchise history to begin a season at Single-A and join the big league squad in the same season. However, in two separate stints with the Mets in 2014 and 2015, Herrera has hit just 0.215/0.308/0.383 with six home runs and 17 runs batted in. Coincidentally, two of Herrera’s six blasts have come at Great American Ballpark, the home park of the Reds.
However, the Mets receive a man who has hit 135 career long balls at Great American Ballpark.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2016
Bruce, 29, is currently leading the National League with 80 runs batted in and tied with now-former teammate Adam Duvall for third in home runs with 25. A three-time NL All-Star, Bruce has posted at least 21 HR in eight of his nine seasons and never posted fewer than 52 RBIs.
With the deal, he becomes the first player in history to be traded while leading the league in RBIs, per ESPN.
“The only thing to do now is go play baseball. I’m a baseball player, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Bruce said to Rosenthal about the trade.
With an offense hitting a collective 0.206 with runners in scoring position, Bruce and his 0.360 average in such situations add some much-needed firepower.
Cincinnati also receives Wotell, the Mets’ third-round pick from Marvin Ridge High School in the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. The 19-year-old currently owns a 3-1 record with a 3.94 ERA for the Kingsport Mets.
The Mets also reacquired former longtime left-handed pitcher Jonathan Niese from the Pittsburgh Pirates, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported. In an odd transaction, the Mets sent offseason signee and struggling left-hander Antonio Bastardo to Pittsburgh for Niese, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette added.
After acquiring second baseman Neil Walker for Niese in the offseason, the Mets have essentially traded Bastardo for Walker since the lefty spent last season with the Pirates.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2016
Jonathon Niese, 29, has struggled for the Pirates this season, going 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 23 games (18 starts). His performance was so bad that Pirates general manager Neil Huntington made some disparaging remarks about the acquisition.
“In hindsight, maybe the two fringe prospects and trying to figure out where to re-allocate the money might have been a better return [for Walker],” Huntington told Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan. “That’s where the results take us.”
In the offseason, Niese made some disparaging remarks of his own, attacking the Mets’ use of a six-man rotation last season. It ultimately resulted in Niese going to the bullpen, where he remained for the playoffs.
When asked about those comments, Mets manager Terry Collins said there “are things that will be addressed” once Niese arrives.
The new-look Mets and Yankees begin their four-game Subway Series at Citi Field tonight.
[Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]