In a column for CSN Philly on Sunday, Jim Salisbury mentions that the Mets are seeking two prospects for outfielder Jay Bruce. “Prospects,” in this case, seems to be a nebulous term. Salisbury adds that the Phillies have had “longstanding interest” in Bruce, but the team prefers to hold onto its prospects. As a result, free agents Brandon Moss or Michael Saunders are better fits for the Phillies, per Salisbury.
Bruce, 29, is under contract for the 2017 season at $13 million before becoming eligible for free agency. The Mets, with a crowded outfield, have made it no secret throughout the offseason that Bruce is available via trade.
Bruce, however, is coming off of a lackluster second half of the 2016 season. He hit quite well in 97 games with the Reds, batting .265/.316/.559 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 402 plate appearances, earning him an All-Star nomination. After joining the Mets, though, Bruce hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 PA.
The Mets’ relative lack of leverage and a still-crowded free agent outfield market will likely hurt the club’s ability to get what it wants for Bruce. As a result, the Mets may carry Bruce into spring training and try to trade him near the start of the regular season. If that doesn’t work, Bruce may have to accept being a part-time player until the summer.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is planning on taking two players to arbitration hearings this winter, per a report by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The club was unable to settle with right-handers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, and took a hard-line approach in hopes of getting arbitration-eligible players to settle by Friday’s deadline.
Mozeliak explained the team mindset as they prepare for the upcoming hearing, adding that he doesn’t intend to settle with either player in the interim:
Historically, this is not something we have had to focus on. […] Energy and where we’ll be headed over the next few weeks will be mostly focused on that. … We do have time. But our strategy was if we file and exchange then we would take it to hearing.
Wacha, 25, had an off year with the Cardinals, going 7-7 with a career-worst 5.09 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 rate through 138 innings. He requested $3.2 million for the 2017 season, which was countered with $2.8 million.
Martinez, who recently reiterated his interest in extending his career in St. Louis, filed at $4.25 million. The club offered $3.9 million. The 25-year-old went 16-9 in 2016 with a 3.04 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 rate in 195 1/3 innings.
As Goold pointed out in his initial report, the Cardinals have not been to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when left-hander Darren Oliver and agent Scott Boras lost to the Cardinals over a sum of $3.55 million.
The Cardinals and first baseman Matt Adams have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $2.8 million salary for the 2017 season, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports.
Adams, 28, was entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. The slugger was limited to 327 plate appearances during this past season due to back, shoulder, and wrist injuries. Heading into a new season, however, Adams has reportedly lost 25 pounds.
With Matt Carpenter shifting over to first base, Adams is currently looking at a backup role with the Cardinals. It would not be surprising to see the club pursue trading him before the regular season begins.