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.
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.