The Phillies bench has been a glaring weakness this season–and that was before Odubel Herrera’s arrest earlier this week. Now, the team appears poised to take its first steps in addressing the issue. Take it away, Jeff Passan:
The Philadelphia Phillies are nearing a deal to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners, a club source familiar with the talks tells ESPN. The trade is expected to be finalized within the next 24 hours.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2019
It’s been a strange season for the 32-year-old outfielder. He’s already banged 14 homers and has a solid .816 OPS in 184 plate appearances for the last-place Mariners, but is hitting only .212 with a .283 on-base percentage. He’s been miserable at T-Mobile Park, hitting only .151 with five homers and a .690 OPS, but one of those homers came last night, the 300th of his career:
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 1, 2019
For what it’s worth, he’s been good on the road, where he’s hitting .261 with nine homers and a .916 OPS.
He also apparently enjoys himself some Citizens Bank Park. He’s hitting .294 with 10 HRs and a .914 OPS in 38 career games there. That will play.
At the very least, Bruce should provide the Phillies with some much needed “pop” from the left side off the bench. At most, he could find himself in left field with Andrew McCutchen shifting to center a couple of times per week should the Phillies want to play Scott Kingery more frequently at third base.
As for what the move could mean for Odubel Herrera? I think Matt Breen might be on to something:
Phillies sure seem to be preparing for the likelihood that Odubel Herrera won’t be returning.
— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) June 1, 2019
Interestingly, Bruce has historically performed much better against right-handed pitching, but has been more productive against lefties this season, posting a .950 OPS in 44 PAs against LHP, which is significantly better than his .775 OPS against RHP. Still, he’s taken the bulk of his ABs against RHP in 2019, and it’s fair to assume that will continue with the Phillies in the event the two sides should finalize an agreement.
Bruce is in the second year of a three-year deal worth $39 million and is due $14 million in 2019 and 2020.