The Cincinnati Reds are enjoying the home runs of Jay Bruce, but will probably enjoy the yield he brings them via a trade, and seem to be discussing one with a number of teams, including the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.
The Mariners seem to be the latest team joining the talks, needing some help in their outfield. Nori Aoki has been a disappointment since they signed him this offseason, and there’s too much pressure on Franklin Gutierrez and Nelson Cruz to deliver, without enough depth or other options. Aoki is hitting career lows across the board, and for the first time in his career he has a negative WAR, although that aspect of his game has decreased in each season since making his major league debut.
Bruce has been playing well just in time for the Reds. They tried trading him all through the offseason after playing poorly in 2014 and 2015, batting just .222 with a .695 OPS and hitting 44 home runs through 1194 plate appearances. This season, he’s back to his All-Star form, making to the summer festival for the third time in his career. He has hit 25 home runs, currently on a five-game home runs streak, while batting .271 with a .895 OPS. He’s 5th in the NL in slugging, 4th in home runs and 1st in RBIs with 79.
Still, the Reds would like to move on from him, one of the last expensive pieces from the team that wasn’t bad, but never got past a certain ceiling in the playoffs. Bruce, who plays right field almost exclusively, isn’t one of the best defensive outfielders in the land, and that’s being gentle with him. And still, he has 1.0 WAR and his offense, if he keeps it up, should more than make up for mistakes on defense, so far with 5 errors this season.
And it’s not much of a risk: Bruce is probably on the hook for around $4.7 million more this season, with a $13 million team option on his contract next season. He could be a one year rental, he could be a lot more. He has gotten hot right in time for the Reds to make good on his talent. He has eight clubs on a no-trade clause in his contract, but he’s willing to waive it if the trade lands him on a contender, which happens to be most of the teams interested in him.