Yankees: Jay Bruce to “stay away” from the team as Bombers make roster decision

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce
Mar 6, 2021; Bradenton, Florida, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Jay Bruce (30) hits a home run in the top of the first inning during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees need to decide between four players and hand them two roster spots, as catcher Kyle Higashioka and reserve outfielder Brett Gardner are all but assured to make the team. That means Jay Bruce, Tyler Wade, Derek Dietrich, and Mike Tauchman are vying for those two remaining places.

Bruce’s minor league contract has an opt-out clause that states he will need to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster in the next day or he will be free to sign with any other team.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said Bruce, who can earn $1.5 million if he is indeed added to the roster, would “stay away” from the team’s complex until a resolution is reached.

Bruce started the spring hot, going 4-for-6, but has cooled off some result-wise. Boone, however, has noticed some good batted balls and at-bats from the veteran outfielder, who has 318 career home runs.

The Yankees are close to making a decision

“Those conversations are happening,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com. “Trying to get different points of view and everyone able to weigh in on different things before we make the final decision.”

Bruce is slashing .194/.242/.419 with two home runs in 13 games this spring. Perhaps more importantly, Boone has shown the ability to cover both corner outfield spots and also first base.

“I don’t want to say I’m pleasantly surprised because I know he’s done that before and has kind of looked the part, but he certainly looked the part to me over there,” Boone said. “He’s shown, I think, everything we could have hoped for when we brought him in.”

Even though Bruce could be a very good addition to the bench given his left-handed power stroke and how it would play in Yankee Stadium, Tauchman is seen as the favorite to hold down one of the two roster spots because his defensive excellence and modest offensive upside.