The Phillies acquired slugger Jay Bruce for next to nothing nearly one year ago; the trade looks even better now, assuming MLB institutes a universal DH.
Back on June 2 of last year — seven weeks before the trade deadline — Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak made the most of his bond with Seattle Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto and pulled off one of the best one-sided trades in recent team history.
With the Mariners continuing to shift their roster from older to younger players, Klentak acquired three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award-winning 1B/OF Jay Bruce in exchange for Single-A infielder Jake Scheiner and cash considerations.
The considerations? Well, Bruce was owed $14 million for the remainder of 2019 and $14 million in 2020, the last of his three-year deal signed while with the New York Mets. Of that nearly $30 million, the Phillies would only be responsible for less than $3 million, or one-tenth of the salary, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.
The trade was a no-brainer then, and now, the trade is looking even better for the Phillies if a 2020 season comes to fruition.
The latest rumored proposal calls for the Phillies playing their season against solely National League East and American League East division opponents. It is becoming likely, at least for the 2020 season, that the designated hitter position becomes universally adopted through Major League Baseball.
In having Bruce, the Phillies are already well-positioned for the sudden rule change.
Bruce saw all of his playing time in his 30-plus games as a fielder in red pinstripes last season in left field. With Andrew McCutchen coming back at full strength for an early July Opening Day, playing time there would be minimal. And, of course, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper would likewise log most of the playing time at his two other positions, first and right field, respectively.
Now, if all of the Phillies’ proposed 2020 games come with the designated hitter position, suddenly that opens up ample playing time for Bruce that he otherwise would not have had.
And the Phillies could use his bat, too. In 51 games at the plate with the team last year, Bruce slugged six doubles, 12 home runs, and 31 RBI.
But, Bruce doesn’t have to be the designated hitter all the time, either. He could spell McCutchen a day off in left field, Harper in right, or even Hoskins at first.
Klentak acquired Bruce to help the Phillies compete for a division title last year, and he knew there would be a good chance he would be on the team in 2020 as well. Yet, he could not have envisioned that a universal designated hitter would come in play so soon.
While other National League teams scramble to identify another bat for a DH, the Phillies already have one —a decent slugger, too, with 312 career home runs and counting.