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Report: Jay Bruce Signs Minor League Deal with Yankees

Jay Bruce

Veteran outfielder Jay Bruce agreed to a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. 

The deal calls for Bruce to earn $1.35 million if he makes the team plus an extra $50,000 for 400, 450 and 500 plate appearances, according to Rosenthal.

Bruce spent his first nine seasons with the Reds, debuting as a 21-year-old in 2008. He slugged 233 home runs in Cincinnati, made three All-Star teams and earned two Silver Slugger awards before he was traded to the Mets in mid-2016. He smacked a career-high 36 home runs in 2017, playing for both the Mets and Cleveland. He re-signed with the Mets in 2018, had a down year (.680 OPS) and was traded to Seattle in the infamous Robinson Canó deal.

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Bruce has played much of the last two seasons with the Phillies after the Mariners traded him in June 2019. He's underperformed and dealt with some injuries. In last year’s shortened season, Bruce hit a career-worst .198 across 32 games. 

Bruce's signing does not prohibit the Yankees from re-signing Brett Gardner, their longest-tenured and last remaining player from their 2009 World Series team, though it could make it less likely.

Gardner, 37, has spent his entire 13-year career with the Yankees, first emerging as a light-hitting, speedy center fielder with a great glove in ’08 and ’09. Over the last seven of seasons, though, he’s found his power stroke. He’s also established himself as one of the team’s most valued veteran players as the organization re-tooled its roster with younger, homegrown stars. 

Because the Yankees are signing Bruce to a minor-league deal, he is not guaranteed a spot on the 40-man roster. New York still has enough luxury tax space before reaching the $210 million threshold to bring in more players, though Bruce’s addition could make the Yankees less inclined to sign another veteran outfielder, even one as beloved as Gardner.

Bruce has a .245/.314/.469 slash line with 318 home runs and 948 RBIs in his 13-year career.