Jay Bruce filled needed void for injury-riddled Phillies

Jay Bruce #9 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Jay Bruce #9 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Considering all of the moves made by former Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak over the past few seasons, his June 2019 acquisition of Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners goes down as perhaps the best of them all.

Not only did the Phillies give up just minor-league third baseman Jake Scheiner and “cash considerations,” in the deal, but the Mariners agreed to pay most of the remaining $23 million owed on his contract.

Looking back at the career of Jay Bruce with the Phillies.

The Phillies were on the hook for less than $3 million, and surely got their monies worth. Bruce filled a noticeable void left by injured left fielder Andrew McCutchen, and went on a tear right away in red pinstripes. In his first 28 games and 25 starts with the team, Bruce slashed .291/.308/.641 with 14 singles, six doubles, 10 home runs, 29 RBI, three walks, and just 16 strikeouts spanning 107 plate appearances.

Bruce’s own injury got the best of him, however, resulting in him collecting just two more hits (both solo home runs) in his final 42 at-bats of the season. This past season, Bruce played in 32 games but saw only 24 starts. One-third of those starts were thanks to the designated hitter. Bruce slugged four doubles, two triples, six homers, and 14 RBI, but slashed just .198/.252/.469.

With no DH in 2021, the Phillies are turning to more versatile bench options.

On Saturday, the New York Yankees addressed their much-needed left-handed bench void by signing Bruce to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Bruce would earn $1.35 million if he makes the big-league team.

A Phillies reunion with the 33-year-old this coming season just was not in the cards, especially with the universal designated hitter not carrying over into 2021. This is also why Bruce was only able to land a minor-league deal with the Yankees, where even if he makes the majors, he would make barely over the veteran minimum.

The Phillies have instead turned to other options to fill out their bench. Utility player Brad Miller appears to be the latest to soon join the mix.

Bruce’s power may have fizzled off in the latter-half of his Phillies stint, but early on, he helped the team keep its momentum going following the McCutchen injury. Ultimately, both the Texas native and the team overall had less and less success as time went on.

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