Yankees: Jay Bruce announces retirement ahead of finale vs Rays


Want a laughable example of how the New York Yankees’ season has gone thus far? Their primary Luke Voit backup plan entering the 2021 campaign has officially retired two weeks in.

Jay Bruce, an outfielder shoved into the role of starting first baseman when the Yankees opened their quest for title No. 28 in April 1, released a statement announcing his retirement on April 18.

Bruce has 14 seasons on his major league ledger, of which he can be extremely proud. Unfortunately, his last several years represented a gradual slowdown, and he hasn’t been a clearly above-average player according to OPS+ since 2017 (he checked in at 101 in 2019, one point above the boundary).

It’s quite likely that his tenure with the Yankees was the toughest of all; he looked overmatched throughout, and unfortunately has chosen to throw in the towel.

Yankees fans (us included) who were quite brutal in their assessment of Bruce’s makeshift first base skills and disappearing power these past few weeks can eat a little humble pie on Sunday and appreciate the man who beat the odds to live up to his first-round billing.

319 homers and three All-Star appearance is nothing to sneeze at. We just wish he had a bit more of that stardom left to channel in 2021.

New York Yankees outfielder Jay Bruce has retired.

The Yankees clearly hoped to catch both veteran leadership and lightning in a bottle with Bruce, whose out-of-position tenure with the team unfortunately was more Kendrys Morales than Gio Urshela — though without Bruce’s bloop two-run single, the Bombers don’t capture the second game of the season, and they’d be in an even more hopeless place at the moment.

On Saturday, it became quite clear Aaron Boone intended to roll with Rougned Odor at second base and DJ LeMahieu at first for the foreseeable future, leaving Bruce without a role until Luke Voit’s return. Is playing LeMahieu out of position preferable to playing Bruce out of position? LeMahieu hasn’t quite looked like himself yet, either, and has to be wondering if this is really what he chose to be extended to do.

Bruce will play out Sunday’s game, in case the Yankees need him for one final at-bat, and then will walk away proudly. Unfortunately, as he made clear in his announcement press conference, the time for him had plainly come.

Who comes up? Are there rules on promotions post-retirement? Can Mike Ford join us? Can Chris Gittens finally claim a roster spot? Time will tell…quickly.

We wish Bruce well — this isn’t how anyone wants to see a career disappear, especially one completed by a consummate professional.