When the Yankees signed veteran outfielder Jay Bruce to a minor league deal this offseason, I did not read too much into it.

Photo: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

I thought he would sign up to play with the Yankees this spring as basically a tryout for other teams. But that is not at all the case with just over two weeks remaining before opening day.

Jack Curry from the YES Network did an interview with Sweeny Murti for a WFAN podcast recently, and he basically said that you could include Bruce with Brett Gardner and whoever the backup catcher ends up being.

It makes sense. Bruce has posted a 1.014 OPS so far this spring training. He has played a bunch of first base and is a veteran lefty bat. He has also received great praise from Aaron Judge.

“He fits in with the team like he’s been here five or six years already,” Judge said.

Bruce has gotten a good amount of time at first base. Last year the backup first baseman for the Yankees was Mike Ford.

I like Ford, but he did not produce last year, and when the Yankees needed a lefty hitter off the bench in the playoffs, it was him.

The Yankees can do better for that role, and I think Bruce can be that guy. His ability to play in the outfield gives him another leg up on Ford as well.

I thought Derek Dietrich would be the favorite to make the roster over Bruce because of the versatility he has, but the bottom line is it looks like Bruce is the better player.

In 2019 when the Yankees had every injury you could think of, they built up depth at an amazing level and played great baseball with guys like Cameron Maybin and Gio Urshela who became a mainstay. It did not go the same way in 2020. The Yankees were hit with a rash of injuries again and that depth was not there.

The lower-level additions the Yankees made this offseason make me more optimistic about them being able to withstand injuries if they were to happen. Of course with the exception of Zack Britton, the Yankees have not had any major injuries and fingers crossed they will not have to deal with them to the same extent in 2021.

As the spring has gone on and we look forward to the regular season, Bruce is someone I can easily see as another under-the-radar position player move that works out really well for Brian Cashman.

Featured Image: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
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