In today's moves around the MLB: Yoenis Cespedes returns to the Mets, Eric Thames heads to the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jon Jay replaces Dexter Fowler in Chicago. The Blue Jay hot stove is heating up ahead of the Winter Meetings, and there's no doubt that Toronto is in the market for corner outfielders.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tells us the Blue Jays are among the teams making a push for Jay Bruce. With Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Michael Conforto already on the roster, the Mets are bound to trade from this surplus. Bruce, 29, is under contract for one more season, and is scheduled to earn $13 million.
This Bruce rumour should come as no surprise, as the Blue Jays nearly traded for him last offseason. However, his defensive metrics took a hit in 2016, as Defensive Runs Saved ranked him at -11 runs, while his Ultimate Zone Rating sat at -9. He would likely platoon with Melvin Upton Jr. in right, but it remains to be seen whether the Blue Jays front office still values him highly. It's hard to tell whether this rumour is legitimate, or if it is simply an easy connection after a near trade one year ago.
Mets will look to trade an outfielder. Jay Bruce seems the most likely though I hear it’s still possible Curtis Granderson is who gets moved— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 29, 2016
As Marc Craig of Newsday tells us, there's a possibility that Mets move Curtis Granderson, as the team would surely get a larger return. Granderson is a better fit for Toronto, as he could also platoon with Upton Jr., and brings more to the table in terms of defence and base running. He is set to earn $15 million in the final year of his contract, and his possesses a similar skill set as Jose Bautista.
Look out for the Astros as a suitor for Edwin Encarnacion, as they look bound to make a major upgrade. The Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox could also look to add a designated hitter, and Cespedes' big contract could increase the price even further.
It is believed that the Blue Jays want him back, but it's tough to envision a return with Kendrys Morales in the fold. You have to wonder if his agent is simply trying to drive up his asking price, as the team would still need to find a way to address the outfield situation. All in all, the odds of a return look to be less than 20%.
After Jon Jay signed with the Cubs, it looks like Fowler will be headed elsewhere. The Blue Jays look to be one of the best fits for Fowler, as the team possesses both the need and the cash to make it happen. With the Cubs out, it is tough to find many terrific fits for the 30-year old Fowler. The Cardinals, Nationals, and Rangers could use an upgrade in centre field, but the Jays could look to build a terrific outfield defence by moving him next to Kevin Pillar.
I'll predict that Fowler signs with the Texas Rangers, but this is an encouraging sign for those on board the "Fowler to Toronto" train. With Jay off the market, that's one option to platoon with Upton Jr.