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Yankees had interest in Jay Bruce, but Mets deal him to other AL contender

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Before the New York Mets finalized a deal to send veteran Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, it appears the Mets were also in negotiations with their crosstown rival for the 30-year-old slugger. 

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Bruce (.258 BA, 29 HR, 75 RBI), and offered to move multiple prospects and to eat a portion of Bruce’s contract, which expires this offseason. Instead, the Mets acquired minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan — a 22-year-old in Class-A who was a 30th-round draft pick for Cleveland in 2016. The Indians also agreed to pick up roughly $4.2 million left of Bruce’s $13 million salary, multiple reports confirmed.

So, why couldn’t the Yankees and Mets come to terms on Bruce? Here are a few potential reasons:

THAT CROSSTOWN RIVALRY: Although the term “rivalry” hasn’t really applied to the Subway Series in the last decade or so (largely due to the big brother-little brother association to the Yankees and Mets), the two clubs seldom make business transactions.

The last time the Yankees and Mets agreed to a trade was in 2014, when reliever Gonzalez Germen was sent to the Bronx in exchange for cash. Before that deal, their last transaction came back in the winter of 2004, when Felix Heredia was sent to Queens for Mike Stanton. Prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, reports mentioned the Yankees’ interest in ex-Mets’ first baseman Lucas Duda, but no deal was agreed upon for the slugger. Perhaps that had something to do with the Mets not wanting to see the Yankees improve in any way, shape or form. This reason can also explain the case with Bruce.

BRUCE ONLY LIKES ONE NEW YORK TEAM: While Bruce will be able to negotiate a new contract this winter as a free agent, his current contract happens to include a no-trade clause to eight particular teams, and one of those happens to be the Yankees. Even if the Mets were intrigued by the Yankees’ offer, perhaps Bruce made the ultimate decision, since he held some power. 

WERE THE YANKEES BEING CHEAP?: It’s not in the Yankees’ nature to ask other teams to eat a good chunk of money on a player they desire. They print money, and the $4.5 million left on Bruce’s contract is practically chump change for the Yankees, a franchise which prints paper bills. Sources claim the Yankees offered multiple prospects, but what if the money request turned the Mets off? On the flip side, maybe the Mets were being cheap in not wanting to take on the cash owed to Bruce. Surprisngly, money somewhat played a factor into this. Just suprising it came from the Yankees’ side. 

YANKEES DON’T NEED TO TRADE FOR A BAT: Sure, the Yankees could use another steady bat, but it wouldn’t necessarily force them to make one last trade. Aaron Hicks is expected to come off the disabled list this weekend, and infielders Greg Bird and Starlin Castro are on the verge of returning to action. While Bruce would’ve worked well as a designated hitter, first baseman, or outfielder (especially with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field), perhaps the Yankees have the utmost confidence in their injuried players, with the hope that all three of them will soon make an immediate impact in the lineup.

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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