Jay Bruce has had a massive impact on the Cleveland Indians since his arrival, but will that impact continue beyond 2017?
When the Cleveland Indians acquired Jay Bruce on August 9, their record was a mere 60-51. They sat atop the AL Central with a small four-game lead over the Kansas City Royals, and had 4.5 games on the Minnesota Twins.
With the Houston Astros 11 wins ahead of them, the best record in the American League seemed out of the question. Since that time? Cleveland has gone 40-8 and now have a one-game lead over Houston, along with the tiebreaker. While several things have contributed to that, Jay Bruce has been one of the most integral parts of it.
Since his arrival in Cleveland, Jay Bruce has hit .248 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. While those are good numbers, his impact goes far beyond them.
When you can add a slugger like Bruce into an already potent lineup, it lengthens it and makes it almost twice as potent. Before Bruce was in town, the opposition may have pitched around Edwin Encarnacion at times to take a chance at attacking the on-deck hitter, Carlos Santana.
With Bruce now hitting between them, it makes it so much harder to pitch around any of the three. This also allows the Indians to slide down hitters like Lonnie Chisenhall to remove pressure off of them, and make the lineup that much longer.
Bruce was acquired as a half-season rental, and is still viewed as one by the front office more likely than not.
So with the undeniable impact Bruce has brought to the table, what reason would Cleveland have to not bring him back? I’m sure most Cleveland fans will be sad to hear, there are several.
Bruce will turn 31 before the start of next season, and it may not be in the Indians’ best interests to retain him despite the fact he hasn’t shown signs of a decline.
Not only will Jay Bruce be in for a very large contract, but the farm system is too promising right now to create blockages for young players. While you could argue that the Indians could retain Bruce and put him in the DH slot since Santana is also a free agent, the likelihood that Bruce is ready to be a full-time DH is very small.
Some may say the window to win is now and keeping him will help those chances, but not retaining him could keep that window open even longer.
Far too often teams give veterans sizable contracts that only work out for the first year or two and then stop paying off. The money that they gave them is now locked up, and the young players that they blocked with that veteran are now elsewhere doing big things.
The chances that he will be back next year have certainly skyrocketed since the trade, but still remain low.