Late last night the AL Central leading Indians made a move for a power bat in acquiring OF Jay Bruce from the New York Mets in exchange for Ryder Ryan, a former 30th round pick in the 2016 draft.
In Bruce the Indians land a big time power bat to patrol their outfield with Michael Brantley’s recent injury and Lonnie Chisenhall’s prolonged absence. By dealing for Bruce the Indians are looking to add some much needed power to an outfield that lacks significant pop. Per ESPN Stats and Info, the Indians combined 37 HRs from their outfield rank 25th(!) in all the MLB. This statistic shows how great an upgrade Bruce can ultimately be when compared to the group they’ve been running out day after day. He alone has hit 29 bombs this season, tied for 10th best in the league with a guy named Bryce Harper.
Acquiring Jay Bruce is not simply a case of the Indians adding outfield insurance though. In bringing in his bat they not only lengthen their lineup and add some thump, but they’ve stolen a possible puzzle piece from another AL contender: the New York Yankees. The Indians brought Bruce in to hit HRs, this much is obvious. However, when you look at the landscape of the AL Central and AL Wild Card races, a move for a big power bat this late in the year can pay dividends down the stretch and separate the true contenders from pretenders.
Although they lead their division by 3.5 games over the Royals, and with the Bartolo Colon led Twins gaining ground at 4 games back, the Indians move for Bruce signals that they aren’t completely comfortable with their current position. Until recently both the Tribe and Royals had been red hot following the All Star Break, and while the Indians have the deepest and most talented team in the central, this move helps make them the clear cut favorite over the rest of the field.
Bruce gives the Indians a much needed outfield bat and significant outfield insurance with Brantley and Chisenhall still out. By pulling off a meaningful August trade the Indians have sent a statement to their division and the rest of the AL contenders. That they are committed to locking down their division along with making a very realistic shot at defending their title as AL Champions. If Brantley and Chisenhall return to the lineup in the near future and produce the way they’re capable of, the Indians will have an even more impressive starting 9 than before with Bruce in the middle of it. Houston and Boston you’ve been warned, the Indians want their AL trophy back.