By Jason Keidel
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Maybe the Mets didn’t get the golden log of the hot stove league — Giancarlo Stanton — but the signing of slugger Jay Bruce matters.
Not only for the back-page splash, but also because Bruce is a left-handed power hitter who can ease the burden from Yoenis Cespedes. Bruce was one of the 10 best free agents on the market, according to Yahoo Sports. And only Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista have belted more homers than Bruce (277) over the last decade.
The next question the Mets must answer: Is Bruce an appetizer or the entree? The beginning of a free agent binge or the extent of the splurge?
For Mets haters or those who just find fault with Bruce because he doesn’t address other needs, there’s no reason the Mets have to stop with the three-year, $39 million contract — a pretty small deal by modern standards — they gave Bruce.
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The Mets have questions freckling the diamond, from first to second to third base and beyond. Let’s look at free agents available and whom the Mets could at least call and court, and give their fans some hope that the Yankees haven’t devoured the Big Apple (again) for the next decade.
Eric Hosmer. Like Bruce, Hosmer isn’t beloved for his glove, but rather for his bat. Front-office types also like Hosmer’s clubhouse mojo. Unlike Bruce, Hosmer is still under 30 (28 years old), batted over .300 last year (.318) and has a much better on-base percentage (.385). Are the Mets likely to sign Hosmer? Of course not. But we’re still allowed to remind them there’s endless elbow room for improvement.
Mike Moustakas. Hosmer’s teammate in Kansas City, the slugger’s next birthday (which, sadly, is on Sept. 11) will be his 30th. But the Mets would be drooling over the 2017 All-Star’s 38 homers, relatively robust .272 batting average and relatively modest 94 strikeouts. Of course, infield power hitters over 30, especially at third base, tend to be nudged toward the outfield. So if the Mets bagged the (former?) Royals third baseman, they would place him at the hot corner likely for two years.
Two years ago, the Mets seemed to…