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Yankees sign Jay Bruce to minor league deal with invitation to spring training

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A slugging outfielder joins the party in Yankees camp.

MLB: Game One-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have yet to announce their full list of non-roster invites to spring training in Tampa, but they’ve continued to slowly assemble that group. One very interesting name joined them on Saturday, as Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Yankees had signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a minor league deal.

Andrés made the case for signing Bruce to a contract like this one a couple weeks ago, so definitely check his post out for more background on what the soon-to-be 34-year-old could bring the table. The short version is that there’s no such thing as a bad minor league contract because the stakes are so low.

Bruce has launched 318 homers from the left side of the plate across 13 years in the majors, becoming a 2-time All-Star and Silver Slugger with the Reds before bouncing around with the Mets, Cleveland, Mariners, and Phillies over the past 5 seasons. He’s less of a starter now and more of a platoon righty masher; despite his 88 OPS+ in 2020, he still had an .821 OPS with 6 homers in 31 games against right-handed pitchers.

Bruce is still capable of even taking the likes of Gerrit Cole deep:

If Bruce makes the MLB roster, he will earn $1.35 million on his one-year deal, with $50,000 incentives for reaching various plate appearance thresholds.

Does signing Bruce spell the end of the Yankees’ pursuit of Brett Gardner? Maybe, but I’d probably imagine not. This just a minor league deal after all, with no guarantees attached. If the Yankees sign Gardner and ultimately prefer him, they could simply let Bruce go at the end of spring training. As an insurance policy and a possible strong bat off the bench? Bruce certainly makes sense.