NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jay Bruce said his wife predicted this offseason that he would return to the Mets. On Wednesday, her prophecy officially came true, as the power-hitting outfielder was reintroduced to the New York media.
After signing a three-year, $39 million deal, the three-time All-Star said he didn’t necessarily anticipate he’d be back in a Mets uniform after he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians in August but he knew the possibility was a very real one.
“I definitely think that myself and (general manager) Sandy (Alderson) and (chief operating officer) Jeff (Wilpon) and the whole Mets organization wanted to definitely leave the door open,” Bruce said. “They expressed that they really appreciated my time here, and I told them the same. And from the very beginning, they said, ‘Listen, there could be a reunion, and we definitely want to kind of explore those options in the offseason.'”
Bruce, who will again wear No. 19, said he also appreciated how honest the Mets were with him in the weeks leading up to the trade, leaving a good impression on the 30-year-old.
Bruce hit .254 last season with a career-high 36 home runs — 29 of which came with the Mets.
Alderson said Bruce’s performance was only one reason he sought to re-sign him. The GM said he also likes Bruce’s durability, versatility and intelligence.
“I can’t tell you how happy we are to have him back,” Alderson said.
What’s ironic about the reunion is there was a time when it looked like Bruce and the Mets were a bad marriage. Through his first 42 games with the team after being acquired in a 2016 trade with the Cincinnati Reds, Bruce was hitting just .174 with four homers. That led to widespread criticism that he couldn’t handle playing in the New York spotlight.
“I’ve obviously been well-documented in saying that the whole performing-in-New York thing was a bit overblown with me,” Bruce said. “I would like to think that I put that to rest and got to move forward from that. But New York’s a big stage, it really is. It’s a big stage, and I think that you have to embrace it, and you have to be here and understand the passion of the fans and the market. And that’s something that I really appreciate and like, because fans are what keep this game going and make it what it is.”
With the Mets, Bruce will be reunited with new manager Mickey Callaway, who was previously the Indians’ pitching coach. Bruce said he got to know Callaway fairly well during their short time working together in Cleveland.
“For me, what set Mickey apart a little bit was the fact that he did take the time to kind of create a rapport with the other players, not just the pitchers in Cleveland,” Bruce said. “So I felt like I got to know him just for the short time that I was there, and I think that he made a point in kind of extending himself to the other players in having a relationship because I think that he felt that was very, very important, and I appreciate that.”
Bruce will be paid $10 million this season and $14.5 million in each of the following two years. He has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block up to five teams each year from acquiring him.