Jay Bruce is back. The three-time All Star was reintroduced to the New York media at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, as he donned his familiar number 19 jersey.
So since Bruce's reunion with the Mets is official, it's as good a time as any to revisit the chain of events around his trade to Cleveland last summer, and evaluate just how well the Mets made out on the exchange, while also asking ourselves if they could have done any better.
The reason I bring this up is because I know there are still Mets fans that are bitter the team didn't trade Bruce to the Yankees for two prospects, and opted instead of get just one (Ryder Ryan) back from Cleveland in exchange for the Indians taking on all of Bruce's remaining 2017 salary.
I get it. First and foremost, because of the seemingly constantly financial flux around this team, it's hard to separate anything the Mets do from ownership's money situation and talk about it simply as a baseball move.
Plus, think about how much sweeter that would have been? Getting two prospects from the Yankees just to see Bruce make a beeline back to Queens?
The thing is, we don't, and may never, know who those prospects the Yankees were willing to send to the Mets were supposed to be. Not one report has ever put names on the players. And while I get the idea that, simply on principle, two prospects are better than one, it's not always the truth.
In theory, every player who isn't on the Major League roster is a "prospect." But all prospects aren't created equal. Would you rather have Amed Rosario or Tim Tebow? Because both are "prospects."
Now, that said, maybe is was all about money. Alderson reported was only allowed to go over the 2017 payroll budget if he promised the Wilpons that he could unload contracts at the deadline should the Mets fall out of contention. But maybe there was just something about Ryan's make up that Sandy Alderson loved. Maybe it was both.
Since we're not in the room when these decisions are made, we don't really know. What we do know, admittedly, is largely subject to what's been reported and what the organization tells us publicly/leaks to the media. And one of those bits on intel that we have is that Sandy prefers to take a quantity approach to building a bullpen. That is, acquire a bunch of hard-throwing, potentially high-upside arms and hope a few of them pan out.
That's exactly what Ryan is, and that's what he showed last season, his first full one in professional baseball. In 54.1 innings between Lake County and Columbia last year (both A ball), Ryan struck out 62 batters. In his 13 innings with the Fire Flies, he allowed 11 base runners in 13 innings.
So in Ryan, maybe the Mets got a future back end up the bullpen arm, or maybe he'll never sniff the Majors. He's so young (22) that it could be one, the other, or anywhere in between. We really have no idea.
But what is for sure is that the Mets now have both parts of that August 9, 2017 trade. Could they have done even better had they moved him to the Yankees? Maybe. How Mets fans view it will depend on the development of Ryan, and the jury is likely to be out on that for quite some time. In the meantime, Bruce is back, and that's a good thing.