Jay Bruce has wandered the baseball landscape for much of the past three seasons.
He might have finally found a home.
The outfielder has been one of the Phillies’ best players since Philadelphia acquired him in a trade with a Seattle Mariners on June 2. Overall this season, he’s hit 24 home runs with 57 RBIs and a .575 slugging percentage. Bruce is batting .291 with 10 home runs and a .641 slugging percentage in 28 games with the Phillies.
“I’ve been happy with the way that I’ve hit, especially since I’ve come here and had a chance to play every day,” he said after belting two home runs to spark the Phillies to an 8-3 win over the New York Mets on Sunday. “I feel like I’ve played a good left field, and I want to continue to get better at that, and I want to help this team make the playoffs.”
Bruce, 32, is in his 12th season. He spent nearly all of his first nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. But he has been traded four times since August, 2016. Bruce was part of the package the New York Mets sent to the Mariners for closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano in one of baseball’s most notable deals this past offseason.
The Phillies traded minor league third baseman Jake Scheiner to Seattle for Bruce. It’s easily been one of Matt Klentak’s best trades since he took over as Phillies general manager before the 2016 season.
The Phillies made the move for Bruce after outfielder Andrew McCutchen was lost for the season with a knee injury. Bruce, who is signed through 2020 at $14 million a year, has not only hit well but also assumed McCutchen’s role as a positive veteran presence in the clubhouse. Bruce is known as one of the nicest and most professional players in baseball.
“It was tough to see (McCutchen) go down,” Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola said. “But Bruce has fit in really well. He’s a good guy, perfect for our team. He rakes. He’s an all-around good player. He’s always positive. A veteran guy like that around a lot of our young guys is good to see.”
The Phillies (47-43) are in third place in the National League East, 6.5 games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves. But if the season ended today, Philadelphia would be in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 as a wild card team.
“Playing meaningful baseball games that matter is something that I really appreciate and don’t take for granted,” Bruce said. “I think we want to win the division. We’re not playing for a wild card. I think we all know that we underachieved in the first half. I think our team’s better than what we’ve played. What’s done is done, and I look forward to the second half and seeing what’s going to happen.”