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Former Phillie Jay Bruce signs minor-league deal with Yankees


Jay Bruce is heading to the Bronx. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

As the Philadelphia Phillies appear poised to reunite with Brad Miller, another slugger with connections to the organization has moved on.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that Jay Bruce has agreed to a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees, one that will include an invite to major league spring training. Rosenthal adds that if Bruce ultimately makes the major league roster, he’ll be paid $1.35 million, and he has incentives in his deal that will pay him an additional $50,000 if he reaches 400, 450 and 500 plate appearances in 2021.

The Phillies acquired Bruce, a three-time All-Star, in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in June of 2019. Though he battled injuries during parts of two seasons with the Phillies, Bruce did homer 18 times in 241 at-bats in red pinstripes. He’s a boom or bust player at this stage of his career – he hit .198 in 2020 – but still hits for enough power to have value as a major leaguer. Rather surprisingly, Bruce even had 2 defensive runs saved in 71.0 innings in left field this past season.

Without knowing if the Yankees will bring back Brett Gardner (Rosenthal says this won’t prevent them from doing so), it’s hard to project whether Bruce has a good shot to ultimately make the major league roster out of spring training. It will be interesting to see whether he opts out of his deal if he doesn’t. On one hand, he may very well have other major league opportunities. On the other hand, he’s seemingly a match made in heaven for Yankee Stadium, and if he remains at Triple-A or with a satellite squad, there’s a very real possibility that Aaron Judge and/or Giancarlo Stanton eventually gets hurt, opening up at-bats for him.

Now 33, Bruce has 318 home runs and 948 RBIs in parts of 13 major league seasons spent with the Phillies, Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Cleveland.

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