Maybe it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Mets have decided with their limited budget to bring Jay Bruce back on a backloaded three year $39 million contract.
This is not the first, and it will not be the last time the Mets have decided to bring back a former player.
At best, these decisions have been a mixed bag. Here is a look at some of the more famous decisions to bring back former players:
Years after the Midnight Massacre and Grant’s Tomb, a new Mets ownership decided to right many wrongs by bringing back the best player in Mets history. Ultimately, the decision proved to be more for nostalgia than it did with results on the field.
By this point, Seaver was no longer Seaver. In 34 starts, he would go 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA as the Mets finished 68-94. This led the Mets to believe they could sneak Seaver through waivers, but ultimately, they were wrong. Seaver would go to the White Sox where he would win his 300th game. While it was a bit melancholy for Mets fans, they did get to see a resurgence as the 1984 team would finish with a 90-72 record.
As much as Mets fans adored Seaver, that was about as much as they disliked Bonilla. Under the pressure of a big contract and the New York market, Bonilla largely wilted with him eventually getting traded to the Orioles. Most assumed he would never return.
That was until Steve Phillips decided to get rid of another hated Mets player, Mel Rojas. The trade with the Dodgers brought Bonilla back. There would be no grand second act as Bonilla would hit .160/.277/.303 in an injury plagued season. In case you haven’t heard, it led to the Mets and Bonilla agreeing to a buy out after the conclusion of the 1999 season.
After missing all of the 2002 season, Cone decided to give it one last go, and he was named the fifth starter for the Mets. Unfortunately, that would only last five games in total.
Ultimately, Cone would make four starts and one relief appearance going 1-3 with a 6.50 ERA. Instead of the team bringing in a sage veteran to help boost up a team who was massively disappointing in 2002, Cone proved to be another veteran whose best years were well behind him. With a team that included players like Roberto Alomar, he was hardly alone on a 66-95 Mets team.
After being released by the Rockies due to the rise of Trevor Story and his domestic violence arrest, the Mets took a flyer on the former favorite son with David Wright once again on the Disabled List.
In 2016, Reyes played better than expected helping led the Mets to the Wild Card Game where they lost on a Conor Gillaspie ninth inning homer. Then, the Mets decided to not only pick up Reyes’ Major League minimum option, they also basically assured him of a starting spot with the continued uncertainly surrounding Wright’s back.
Last year, Reyes was one of the worst regulars in all of baseball posting a -0.6 for the season. He showed he could not handle third on an everyday basis, and he proved that he is no longer a Major League caliber leadoff hitter. Amazingly, both parties are interested in a reunion for the 2018 season.
Bruce is coming back to the Mets after a career year in which he almost helped propel the Indians to the ALCS. The $10 million he is slated to make this season may very well prove to be the bulk of the budget the Mets had remaining this offseason. If so, the team will be forced to look on the scrap heap to fill holes at second, third, center, and the bullpen.
In the end, Bruce may be happy being back with a team where he has had much success and is well liked and respected by the team an fan base. However, one has to question how well this second act will go with the team needing so many other pieces. Hopefully, his second act will prove to be better than the second acts of the aforementioned Mets.