LOS ANGELES -- Jay Bruce told the world on Sunday morning that he had been traded to the Phillies, hours before the Phillies and Mariners announced the deal.
With the trade now official, Bruce will join the Phillies on Monday in San Diego, where he will provide depth to an outfield currently without Odubel Herrera and add support to a bench that has been one of the least productive in baseball. The Phillies sent Seattle Minor League third baseman Jake Scheiner to the Mariners in exchange for the three-time All-Star and cash considerations. Besides Bruce, Seattle will send the Phillies more than $18.5 million of the remaining $21.3 million on Bruce’s contract, meaning the Phillies will play only $2.75 million of his salary over the next two years.
“I get to go somewhere I have a chance to win, and at this point in my career, that’s pretty paramount for me,” Bruce said. “Obviously I’ve spent most of my career in the National League and multiple years in the NL East. I look forward to going over there and helping the Phillies hopefully win a championship. That’s my goal. I just want to win.”
Bruce, 32, is batting .212 with 14 home runs, 28 RBIs, a .533 slugging percentage and an .816 OPS.
“He's excited to come to a contending team and understands that for the next year and a half there may be times when he's playing regularly and there may be times when he's playing off the bench,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. “It's a good opportunity for him to come to a good team.
“Obviously, that will be in part dictated by his performance and in part the performance of others, the health of others, etc. But we like the fact that Jay Bruce can cover us in both corner outfield spots as well as first base in the event of injuries or just regular days off for our players. We also like the fact that he can be a difference-making left-handed bat off the bench with power. That is something we have not really had so far this year. It's something that we've been eyeing. And with some of the recent events involving our outfielders, we felt this was a good time to go address that need.”
Herrera is on administrative leave as Major League Baseball investigates an alleged domestic violence incident that happened Monday night in Atlantic City, N.J. Herrera was arrested on a charge of simple assault. He is eligible to be reinstated from leave on Tuesday, but the expectation is it will be extended.
In short, there is no timetable for Herrera’s return if he returns at all.
The only other outfielders on the 40-man roster are Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens. Quinn has not proven he can stay healthy for an extended period and Cozens could miss the remainder of the season following surgery on his left foot.
The Phillies have been playing Andrew McCutchen and Scott Kingery in center field while Herrera is out. Nick Williams has played left when McCutchen is in center. Williams is batting .159 with one home run, four RBIs and a .437 OPS in 73 plate appearances.
Bruce could play left field when McCutchen is in center.
Bruce can also put some fear into pitchers late in games. Phillies pinch-hitters are batting .152 (14-for-92) with one home run, seven RBIs, a .196 on-base percentage, a .217 slugging percentage and a .413 OPS, which ranks 29th in baseball.
“Look,” Klentak said, “when we're constructing ballclubs, obviously the headline-grabbing moves typically are your more prominent free agents or a trade like (J.T.) Realmuto. But sometimes it's just as important to solidify your bench and to build depth. Make sure when the inevitable happens -- and you don't know what it's going to be, or who it's going to be, or how it's going to happen -- that you try to protect yourself as well as you can.
“With [Aaron] Altherr being DFAed, with Quinn being on the IL, with Cozens having foot surgery, with Odubel being on administrative leave, our outfield depth has been compromised in the first couple months of the year. We think it's important to address that outfield depth.”
Bruce could be the first of the Phillies’ upgrades leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline. His impact on the Phillies’ luxury tax threshold is minimal -- about $1 million for 2019 -- meaning they have plenty of flexibility to make more moves before the end of the month. There seems to be little chance the team signs free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel, but they have been interested in free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, if he is willing to sign a short-term deal. He has been seeking a multi-year deal.
Even if the Phillies do not sign Kimbrel, they have enough money and prospects to make upgrades.
“There’s still two months to go,” Klentak said. “Early June is not typically the trading season like late July is. I'm sure there will be more conversations that take place between now and the end of July. I don't want to predict what we'll do because I have no idea. But I also don't want to declare that we're done with the trade market either because that's also not true.”