Rhys Hoskins Applauds Addition of Jay Bruce: ‘He'll Fit Right in, We're Excited to Get Him'

LOS ANGELES - The Phillies have just 68 home runs this season. That ranks 23rd in the majors.

The team's pinch-hitters are hitting just .151 (14 for 93).

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So there are two areas where veteran Jay Bruce, acquired in a trade with Seattle on Sunday, will help.

"He makes our bench stronger and I think he also makes our lineup stronger," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This guy has 300 career home runs, he's a professional and we've done a lot of work on his makeup and character and he'll fit very well in our clubhouse. The more leaders the better."

Bruce, 32, is under contract through 2020 at about $21 million. The Phillies are paying just $2.75 million of that. They sent Single A infielder Jake Scheiner to Seattle to complete the deal. Bruce will meet the Phillies in San Diego on Monday.

With Odubel Herrera on administrative leave as MLB investigates a domestic violence charge, and Roman Quinn on the injured list, the lefty-swinging Bruce will get some time in left field, probably against right-handed pitching. In those cases, Andrew McCutchen could move to center field.

"We'll discuss how we'll use him going forward, but I see him as both a great option off the bench to get a big pinch hit for us and I see him as an option to start games for us," Kapler said.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke with Bruce by phone on Sunday and told him of his role. Bruce could spend most of the remainder of his contract coming off the bench. He is OK with that.

"He's excited to come to a contending team and understands that for the next year and a half there may be times when he's playing regularly and there may be times when he's playing off the bench," Klentak said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come to a good team. 

"We like the fact that Jay Bruce can cover us in both corner outfield spots as well as first base in the event of injuries or just regular days off for our players. We also like the fact that he can be a difference-making left-handed bat off the bench with power. That is something we have not really had so far this year. It's something that we've been eyeing. And with some of the recent events involving our outfielders, we felt this was a good time to go address that need.

"When we're constructing ball clubs, obviously the headline-grabbing moves typically are your more prominent free agents or a trade like (J.T.) Realmuto. But sometimes it's just as important to solidify your bench and to build depth."

The Phillies will have to clear a 25-man roster spot to activate Bruce on Monday. With Zach Eflin likely to come off the IL and pitch Friday, the team could buy some time and simply send pitcher Cole Irvin to the minors. Sending out Nick Williams is also a possibility.

Rhys Hoskins applauded the addition of Bruce.

"It's an exciting move, another veteran guy who has been in some big situations in the playoffs, a left-handed hitter who knows the game," Hoskins said. "He's comfortable in a ton of different roles, and from everything I've heard he's a great dude. He'll fit right in here and we'll be excited to get him."

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