The Blue Jays are expected to pursue free agent Jay Bruce this offseason, according to a recent report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Toronto was unable to make a deadline deal for the slugger, but is reportedly still interested in his services after walking away from Jose Bautista this week. The Indians, Cafardo adds, might redirect their efforts to retain Carlos Santana rather than striking a new deal with their former outfielder.
Bruce, 30, experienced something of a breakthrough in 2017. He split his season between the Mets and Indians, batting a cumulative .254/.324/.508 with 2.7 fWAR and a career-best 36 home runs in 617 plate appearances. The Indians plucked him from the waiver wire in early August, sending minor league righty Ryder Ryan to the Mets as Bruce helped them through their 22-game win streak and a five-game run in the ALDS. He went 5-for-18 in the postseason, collecting two home runs, a double and four RBI before the team was edged out by the Yankees in Game 5.
As the Blue Jays head toward a significant rebuild in 2018, one potential hurdle is their former inclusion on Bruce’s no-trade list. Back in July, that list included the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Yankees, Athletics, Rays and Phillies. Granted, the Jays may find it easier to court Bruce’s services now that he’s entered free agency, but unlike the D-backs or Yankees, they finished the 2017 season with a lot left to prove.