One of the latest acquired players the Yankees have signed is 34-year-old right fielder Jay Bruce. In 13 years of baseball, Bruce has a career .245 BA, .783 OPS, and 318 home runs. With a minor league deal worth one million dollars, it’s safe to say that this was a great deal with what he can bring to the table. Although through his spring training time with the team, there have been questions regarding his position on the roster.
Why Are There Questions Regarding Jay Bruce And His Position?
Since the Yankees have a stacked lineup already, Jay Bruce is going to have some trouble making it to the starting lineup. Bruce offers depth regarding the outfield which is huge for resting players as well as replacing injuries. The best spot for him on the roster currently is the bench but he still has competition making it. With a four-man bench this year, it will be harder to fit him in. Since a backup catcher is needed during games, Kyle Higashioka is locked in. Yankees veteran Brett Gardner will be a backup outfielder on the bench as well. Also, Tyler Wade who offers good fielding and speed will most likely be locked in to be a backup shortstop for Gleyber Torres.
If those players make it to the bench, then only one more spot will be open. Mike Tauchman has options remaining meaning if he doesn’t make the roster, another team can pick him up. Tauchman has value from his fielding and can hit as well. Derek Dietrich is also fighting for a spot and can play multiple positions with his power bat. This leads to the question about Jay Bruce and his position.
Can Jay Bruce Prove He’s The Guy?
Overall, Jay Bruce needs to prove to the Yankees that he is ready for the opportunity and take the 4th bench spot but can he do it? He has shown in the past that he can be sufficient as a lefty power bat who can hit home runs to the right field. This is huge as the Yankee Stadium offers a short porch in right field. So far during this spring training, Bruce has had 26 at-bats with a .231 batting average. He already has hit two home runs and has a .786 OPS. Compared to Mike Tauchman and Derek Dietrich, Jay Bruce has shown better stats than both players in every category. Furthermore, Baseball-reference has projected him to have a .217 BA, .720 OPS, and 18 HRs during 372 plate appearances. Keep in mind though, Projections are not always reliable.
To summarize, Jay Bruce can be a good bench bat for quality at-bats and home runs. The only problem he has right now is making it to the position because of competition from other teammates. He has a huge chance of making it to the opening day roster if he keeps it up in spring training.