Surprisingly, the Cincinnati Reds still haven’t found a trading partner for Jay Bruce. His impressive hitting this season hasn’t gone unnoticed, and AL Central teams like the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals have been playing close attention.
The Reds were able to move most of their expensive players during the offseason, but not Bruce. His contract, his disappointing production in 2014 and 2015, and especially his problematic defense kept teams from pushing the trigger on a move for Bruce, or at least made them hesitant when it came to matching the price the Reds were setting.
But things change six months later. Some teams become desperate for an upgrade, even if it isn’t perfect, seeing their playoff prospects fade away, or becoming aware that what they have right now isn’t enough. And there’s Bruce’s performances for the Reds. His defense is still terrible, but he’s hitting .271 with a .913 OPS, more or less his best season so far, while bashing 15 home runs, resulting in 49 RBIs, and leading the majors in triples with six so far.
The White Sox, falling apart in the last month or so, are prime candidates to make a change, and it seems that after making a lot of changes recently (Adding James Shields and Justin Morneau among other moves), they’re not done. The White Sox know they’ll have to eat up most of Bruce’s contract ($12.5 million this season, $13 million team option in 2017) in order to get him, but getting Shields for hardly anything (the Padres keep paying him most of his salary) leaves them with enough money to include Bruce as they try to bring their season back to life.
The Royals are doing slightly better than the White Sox, currently on a four-game winning streak too. However, they were expecting to be with a few more wins at this stage of the season. Bruce could help them stand out in a pretty tight division so far (except for the horrible Minnesota Twins), and he has about $8 million remaining in this season. The Royals aren’t too happy to add these kind of salary burdens, but considering their World Series return bid seems to be stuttering, they might make an exception to include an expensive, but productive one-year rental like Bruce.