The Mets made their first major splash of the offseason on Wednesday night when they agreed to terms with Jay Bruce on a three-year, $39-million contract, according to a baseball source.
The Mets will be reuniting with Bruce, 30, who started last season at Citi Field before getting traded to the Indians. Bruce will man rightfield to begin the season and could see some time at first base when Michael Conforto returns from shoulder surgery.
The deal is pending a physical.
Bruce spent a little more than year with the Mets after coming over in a trade from the Reds at the trade deadline in 2016. Bruce struggled in his first taste of New York life, hitting just .218 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs as the Mets surged to a wild-card spot.
Bruce displayed his usual lefthanded power bat before getting traded away last season. He hit .256 with 29 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Mets before being dealt to Cleveland on Aug. 9 for righthanded pitcher Ryder Ryan.
Bruce hit .248 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs for the Indians, giving him season totals of 36 home runs and 101 RBIs. He also had a memorable Division Series against the Yankees, including a pair of home runs.
As the offseason began, Bruce was reportedly seeking a five-year contract and was linked to the Giants and Astros. But it has been a tough market in general for free agents, and in particular for power bats.
Bruce is familiar with new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was the pitching coach with the Indians last season.
In August, Bruce was asked about the possibility of re-signing with the Mets.
“I enjoyed my time in New York,” he said. “I really did. There’s a great group of guys there. The talent is there. They have a nucleus. We’ll see what happens.
“Going into spring training with the Mets, we thought we were a World Series contender. I still believe that, had the injuries not taken over.”
The Mets had a need because of the injury to Conforto, who is not expected to be ready for Opening Day after injuring his shoulder on an innocent-looking swing.
“Seeing Conforto get hurt, man, that killed me,” Bruce said back in August. “He was having a great year and he is, I feel, the next guy over there. It was bad to see that.”
The Mets are still in the market for a second baseman or third baseman and some bullpen help. Their biggest player acquisition before Bruce was reliever Anthony Swarzak, who signed a two-year, $14-million deal.
According to a source, the Mets are also interested in reuniting with free agent reliever Addison Reed. They have had talks with the Pirates about outfielder Andrew McCutchen and second baseman Josh Harrison, although Bruce’s return would seem to make McCutchen less likely.
Jose Reyes is still a free agent, so that could end up being yet another reunion for the suddenly active Mets.