By Mike Fitzpatrick
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK — The New York Mets have acquired All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds for infielder Dilson Herrera and minor league left-hander Max Wotell.
The 29-year-old Bruce is hitting .265 with 25 homers and a National League-leading 80 RBIs. He made the NL All-Star team for the third time.
New York also re-acquired left-hander Jon Niese from Pittsburgh for reliever Antonio Bastardo.
New York’s moves follow last year’s trade deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, whose offensive spark helped the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 2000. The Mets began Monday with a 54-50 record, 6 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington and 2 1/2 games back for the NL’s second wild card. Their .237 batting average is the lowest in the major leagues.
Bruce homered in five straight games in late July, a career best. A downside has been his career-long penchant for following a torrid streak with an incredibly cold one.
Bruce has a .249 career average with 233 homers in nine major league seasons. He is earning $12.5 million this year, and his contract includes a $13 million team option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout.
New York clinched the NL East title in Cincinnati last September and return for a three-game series from Sept. 5-7.
Cincinnati is into its second year of rebuilding, trading any high-priced veteran it can. The Reds dealt starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, 2015 All-Star Home Run Derby winner Todd Frazier and closer Aroldis Chapman in the past year.
They tried to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Nationals, but he used his option to block the deal. They also had the framework of a three-team deal in place that would’ve send Bruce to Toronto in the offseason, but that fell through.
Herrera, 22, made his big league debut in 2014 and hit .215 over 49 big league games in the ‘14 and ‘15 seasons. He is batting .276 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs this year at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Traded from the Mets to Pittsburgh last December for second baseman Neil Walker, Niese struggled during his time with the Pirates. He went 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA and was moved to the bullpen earlier this month.
The 29-year-old Niese is making $9 million in the final season of a deal he signed with the Mets in March 2012, a contract that includes a $10 million team option for 2017 with a $500,000 buyout.
Bastardo, who went 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 2015 with Pittsburgh, posted a 4.74 ERA in 41 appearances for the Mets. Bastardo agreed to a $12 million, two-year deal with New York in January and is owed $6.5 million in 2017.