CLEVELAND — An inconsistent offense and depleted outfield just got a big boost.
Hours after losing 3-2 in 12 innings to the Rockies on Wednesday, the Indians acquired big-swinging slugger Jay Bruce from the Mets for Class A Lake County right-hander Ryder Ryan.
Bruce, 30, fills a need for Cleveland, which is without injured outfielders Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall. Brantley, an All-Star this year, was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Colorado with a right ankle sprain, and Chisenhall, who is in the midst of his best season in the majors, has been sidelined since July 9 with a right calf strain.
“The combination of the two (injuries) provided the opportunity to bring someone in like Jay,” team president Chris Antonetti said. “If Lonnie and Michael are healthy and unrestricted at this point, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity.
“Obviously, Jay’s track record speaks for itself. He’s been one of the most productive right fielders in baseball over the course of the last 10 years and he’s in the midst of one of the best years of his career.”
Bruce, a three-time All-Star, has hit at least 30 home runs in four of the past six seasons and is already at 29 this year. He’s batting .258 with 75 RBIs in 102 games for New York.
His homer total is tied for ninth in the majors and his RBI count ranks 17th.
Over the past six seasons, he’s averaged just under 29 homers and 93 RBIs per year. He spent the first eight-plus years of his career in Cincinnati before being acquired by the Mets at the trading deadline last season.
According to multiple reports in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, Cleveland was interested in acquiring Bruce and his Mets teammate and former Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. There wasn’t an overwhelming need until Brantley went down with an injury Tuesday night.
“We’ve had interest in Jay for years,” Antonetti said. “We’ve tried to acquire him in a number of different junctures in the past.”
“I knew something could happen, and happen fast,” Bruce told Mets.com. “I really enjoyed my time in N.Y. but I’m excited to jump right into a pennant race.”
Bruce cleared waivers Tuesday and, according to multiple reports, the Yankees were also interested in acquiring him, but unlike the Indians were unwilling to pick up the remainder of his contract with the Mets — around $5 million.
The Mets exercised a $13 million option for this year, with Bruce set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
“I think that’s important to note,” Antonetti said. “Ownership has been incredibly flexible in doing whatever it takes to make us a championship-caliber organization.”
Bruce is expected to join the Indians today for the opener of a four-game series at Tampa Bay.
Ryan, a 30th-round draft pick last year, is 3-4 with a 4.79 ERA in 33 games for Lake County.