TAMPA — Jay Bruce won’t play for the Yankees until his contract status is resolved, as it becomes increasingly clear the team won’t put him on the 40-man roster.
“He’s gonna stay away here until we make a decision,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday.
The 33-year-old Bruce faced a Thursday deadline to opt out of his minor league deal with the Yankees. His contract states he can request the Yankees make him available to the other 29 teams in the majors and those teams would have 48 hours —until Saturday — to put him on their major league roster.
After a hot start to camp, with two homers and a double in his first five games, the lefty-swinging Bruce has struggled. He’s hitless in his last 16 at-bats with seven strikeouts.
“We feel like he’s healthy. His swing is in a pretty good place,” Boone said. “He’s impacted a number of balls. He’s impacted a number of balls and shown everything, I think, we could have hoped for when we brought him in.”
If no team takes on Bruce and the $1.5 million the Yankees agreed to pay him if he made the big league roster, he must be must be offered a $100,000 retention fee, as a veteran with at least six years of major league service time on a minor league contract. The retention fee obligates the player to accept a minor league designation until June 1 (unless the player has contractual outs before then).
The Yankees have used Bruce at first base and in the corner outfield spots, but they face a numbers crunch with their 26-man roster. The Yankees still like Mike Tauchman’s ability to play all three outfield positions and are confident Tauchman can get back to where he was in 2019 offensively.