Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets and free agent 1B/OF Jay Bruce have interest in a reunion.
The Mets don’t seem all that comfortable going into 2018 with Dominic Smith at first base, questioning his conditioning after he gained weight towards the end of the season. The Mets’ corner outfield is already spoken for with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, though Conforto could conceivably move to center field full-time.
Bruce, 30, hit a combined .254/.324/.508 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI in 617 plate appearances between the Mets and Indians last season.
The Mets have nearly $121 million committed for the 2018 season already before accounting for a handful of arbitration-eligible players. It would seem the need to upgrade at second or third base would be a more pressing issue than adding a 1B/OF type like Bruce. If the Mets are truly uncomfortable with Smith as a full-time option, they could presumably wait until deeper in the offseason and see who is left among the likes of Yonder Alonso, John Jaso, Cameron Maybin, Jon Jay, Austin Jackson, and Melvin Upton, Jr.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.