Outfielder Jay Bruce is a valued member of the Indians’ outfield, but he almost became a member of the Yankees back in August. Yankees ownership was too miserly to take on the entirety of his remaining contract — a few million dollars — to acquire him from the Mets. The much smaller-market Indians were willing to take on Bruce’s entire remaining salary, so they got him.
Instead, during Game 1 of the ALDS at Progressive Field on Thursday evening, the Yankees watched Bruce almost singlehandedly power the Indians’ offense to a victory. Bruce drilled a two-run home run against Sonny Gray in the bottom of the fourth inning. He knocked in another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly against Jaime Garcia.
The Yankees’ outfield — Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge — combined to go 1-for-10 with six strikeouts in Game 1.
It wasn’t that the Yankees weren’t willing to pay at all. The club was reportedly willing to give the Mets “multiple prospects.” But adding in a few million dollars was a bit too much for the Yankees, who had an Opening Day payroll approaching $200 million and are valued as a franchise around $3.5 billion.
The Yankees will have to take on AL Cy Young Award candidate Corey Kluber on Friday with a 1-0 series deficit. And they will have to hope Bruce doesn’t punish them any more than he already has.