The market for Jay Bruce continues to be turbulent, especially with less and less big hitters available to trade for. No less than five clubs might be interested in the Cincinnati Reds slugger: The Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays.
Each reporter and each Twitter account is saying different things. Bob Nightengale thinks it’s going to be a National League team, but not the Dodgers. Jon Heyman gives the obscure “many clubs” which always draws questions, but does mention it’s the Giants, Mets and Indians. Ken Rosenthal includes those three teams, but also the Blue Jays and Rangers in his shortlist for the Jay Bruce grand prize, which seems like an unlikely scenario considering where he was before the season began.
The Blue Jays seem like unlikely suitors because of their power hitting, although the outfield will be abit more complete with Bruce at right field. The Rangers might also be out of the picture – they’re more worried about their pitching, although they did show interest in Jonathan Lucroy. The Giants have been looking for batters, but are getting key guys off the DL which might suggest they’re suddenly set, and looking locked and loaded to make it another even year World Series.
Most likely? Mets and Indians. The Mets never want to take on big contract for a long time, and Bruce is perfect for that: He makes $12.5 million this season, leaving about $4 million for the Mets to pick up. Next season? He has a $13 million team option. Very reasonable for his production, and even if he isn’t picked up, he won’t have a problem finding a new team and a decent deal. The Indians, after Jonathan Lucroy spurned them (quite surprisingly), are out looking for someone to drive in runners and bang home runs. Bruce seems like the best fit, with the Reds looking for good, but not elite talent.
Which is a good way to describe Bruce’s season. He has a .875 OPS, the best of his career, while batting .265. He has 25 home runs, nine short of his career best, with 80 RBIs, leading the National League. He made the All-Star for the third time in his career this season, and it seems like the down years of 2014 and 2015 are over. At 29, a strong finish to the season, with the Reds or someone else, could set him up for a big contract not too far from now.