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Drayer: Jay Bruce trade starts the next step in Mariners’ rebuilding process

The trade of Jay Bruce brings a 2017 fourth-round pick to the Mariners farm system. (AP)

There was little question heading into the season that the Mariners team on the field in August and September would look quite different from the team that took the field at the Tokyo Dome on Opening Day.

Mariners trade season is here: Jay Bruce sent to Phillies for prospect

General manager Jerry Dipoto has been candid from the get-go that players who did not figure to play a role in 2021 were players likely to be traded as the season went on. Sunday morning we saw our first move with the trade of Jay Bruce to the Phillies.

News broke Saturday that the Mariners and Phillies were deep in talks to get the veteran outfielder to Philadelphia. Hitting .212/.283/.533 with 14 home runs and 35 RBIs at the time of the trade, Bruce was an awkward fit from the start on a Mariners roster that was heavy at first base, in the outfield and at designated hitter – the three positions Bruce can play. In a transition year, however, Bruce’s initial acquisition by the Mariners was less about filling a need – although he provided very good leadership for the younger players in the clubhouse – and more about making Robinson Canó’s contract more palatable to the Mets.

In return for Bruce from the Philiies, the Mariners pick up 23-year-old infielder/outfielder Jake Scheiner, who was selected by the Phillies in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Scheiner has hit .256/.326/.353 for High-A Clearwater and will report to the Modesto Nuts, the Mariners’ High-A affiliate. The Mariners are also reported to be sending $18 million to the Phillies, which covers all but approximately $3.5 million of what was left on Bruce’s contract (he is signed through 2020).

Outfielder Braden Bishop is up from Tacoma to take Bruce’s spot on the 25-man roster for now. Another roster crunch is on the near horizon, though, with Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy getting closer to coming off the 10-day injured list. That crunch could be short lived, however, as other veterans are likely to be moved. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman with the tweet that should have been no surprise to anyone who has followed this team.

You don’t say…

With the expectation being that we would eventually see more young players and less placeholders as the season moves on, it is good to see the process begin. The scene Sunday morning in the Mariners clubhouse before the trade was official would indicate the players understand it. Bruce was there in street clothes, talking openly about the move as clubhouse attendants packed up his locker. There were hugs and back pats from teammates as well as a good amount of razzing.

“Let’s find his jersey and bury it!” shouted one teammate as he headed to the music library to find something “appropriately sad” to play.

With the move, the Mariners 40-man roster is now at 38.

Dipoto: Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic’s timeline ‘ahead of schedule’

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