By Mary Cunningham
The Phillies yesterday confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in MLB:
They acquired former All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Class-A infielder Jake Scheiner and cash considerations.
Bruce is owed $8,317,204 this year from his $13 million salary and has a $13 million salary in 2020 — the remainder of a three-year contract he signed with the New York Mets in January 2018. The Mets remain responsible for the second $1.5 million installment of his $3 million signing bonus, a payment due Jan. 31, 2020.
The 32-year-old Bruce is hitting .212 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs. He has struck out 53 times in 165 at-bats.
“I figured this would be the situation,” Bruce told reporters. “It’s bittersweet. I really like the group of guys here [in Seattle]. I got to know some of them and had great relationships. It’s part of the business, though. I get to go somewhere I have a chance to win, and at this point in my career, that’s pretty paramount for me.”
A three-time All-Star for Cincinnati in 2011, ’12 and ’16, Bruce was acquired by the Mets from the Reds on Aug. 1, 2016, traded to Cleveland on Aug. 9, 2017, then became a free agent and returned to the Mets in 2018.
He hit just .223 with nine homers and 37 RBIs in 94 games last year, and New York traded him to Seattle in December as part of the deal in which the salary-shedding Mariners sent second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diazto the Mets.
Phils outfielder Odubel Herrera was placed on administrative leave by the commissioner’s office Tuesday under the sport’s domestic violence policy after his arrest in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Bruce is expected to help fill that void.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Bruce would be used both off the bench and as a starter.
“Jay Bruce makes our bench stronger and I also think he makes our lineup stronger on days when we’ll see a right-handed pitcher,” he said.
Bruce’s last hit with Seattle was memorable: He clubbed his 300th career home run on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Scheiner, 23, hit .256 with two home runs and 19 RBIs for Class-A Clearwater this season.