Jay Bruce Rumors

Quick Hits: Indians, Correa, Astros, Gee, Reds

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Indians aren’t likely to option Jose Ramirez or call up Francisco Lindor, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. As Hoynes puts it, Ramirez often does something to help the team win despite a .184/.252/.245 slash. The club would like to see more from Lindor before considering a promotion. He’s currently hitting .265/.341/.383 at Triple-A. Mike Aviles is stretched thin covering for both Ramirez and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. The team could promote utility infield Zach Walters, but there’s no guarantee he would be an upgrade. As such, Ramirez will probably continue to play with regularity.
  • Astros top prospect Carlos Correa could be promoted as soon as their upcoming series against the White Sox, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Manager A.J. Hinch spoke with reporters about the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for the majors. With Jed Lowrie sidelined, the club has turned to a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar. The pair have not performed well. Given Houston’s place atop the AL West, there is some pressure to summon Correa. Since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s hitting a restrained .253/.324/.429 in 102 plate appearances.
  • The Astros have the highest bonus pool for the upcoming draft, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston can spend $17,289,200 because they have the second and fifth overall picks. GM Jeff Luhnow aims to have the “best yield” of any club. In the past, the Astros signed Correa to an under-slot contract in order to go over-slot for Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. They attempted to do the same last year with Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix, but Aiken’s failed physical ruined that plan.
  • The Mets have scrapped their six-man rotation, and Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN. Gee is unhappy with the move. He believes he’ll have less value to the team and on the trade market as a reliever. He’s owed $5.3MM in 2015 and is club controlled through 2016. The club was using a six-man rotation to limit the workloads of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. New York may also promote Steven Matz at some point. He has a 1.94 ERA with 9.08 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 in the hitter friendly PCL.
  • The next few weeks will decide if the Reds are deadline sellers, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The team is currently 23-31 and seven games back from the second Wild Card slot. If the club continues to scuffle, players like Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jay Bruce could be shopped. Cueto and Leake are free agents at the end of the season.

Reds Notes: Cueto, Marshall, Mesoraco

The Reds are suffering through an eight-game losing streak and, as you’ll read here, dealing with a number of key injuries as well.  Here’s the latest from Cincinnati…

  • Johnny Cueto will have his right elbow examined today, Joe Kay of the Associated Press tweets.  Cueto missed his scheduled start on Sunday due to what manager Bryan Price described to reporters yesterday (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) as “more than his usual elbow stiffness,” which prompted the Reds to be cautious with their ace, though Price felt Cueto probably could have pitched if absolutely necessary.  “I don’t think it’s anything anybody is concerned with….If he needs a little extra time, he’s certainly earned it,” Price said.  It should be noted that an elbow exam is a pretty routine step whenever a pitcher is experiencing any discomfort, so the fact that Cueto is undergoing an examination is not necessarily a bad sign.  Still, Price said today that Cueto “hasn’t had total relief. I’d have thought by now, he would.”  Any type of health issue for Cueto is worth monitoring given his status as both one of the top free agents of the 2015-16 offseason and potentially a big deadline trade chip for the struggling Reds.
  • In a welcome turn of events for Reds reliever Sean Marshall, the left-hander could be back pitching this season, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.  Last week, Marshall went in for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder, which was expected to end his season and potentially threaten his career.  Instead, doctors discovered that full surgery wasn’t needed and instead just removed some scar tissue, so Marshall could be back on the mound this year if all goes well in his recovery.  The southpaw has thrown just 25 1/3 innings over the last two seasons due to a variety of injury problems, including rotator cuff surgery last June.
  • Devin Mesoraco has been placed on the 15-day DL (retroactive to last Thursday) with a left hip injury, the team announced via Twitter.  Mesoraco has been limited to 51 plate appearances this season due to his hip impingement, and he’s appeared as a catcher in only six of his 23 games; the Reds have been trying to keep him healthy by using him as a pinch-hitter and interleague DH.  Both the player and team were looking to exhaust all possibilities before turning to surgery, though a season-ending hip operation may now be the only option.
  • The Reds are looking more and more like trade deadline sellers, and though Jay Bruce is only hitting .211/.311/.408 in 164 PA, he could be a trade chip, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.  “I’d take a flyer on him and see if our on-the-field people could fix him,” an AL scout told Fay.  “He looks healthy. His home runs and walks still grade out at 60 to 65 (on the 80-point scale). It’s just that his hit-ability is at 25 right now.”

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Miley, Cashman, Bruce

Even with Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and (eventually) Wade Miley now in the fold, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington didn’t close the door on the possibility of more pitching moves.  “I think we’€™re going to keep working and see what comes to us. Our hope was to really strengthen our rotation, our position with the rotation, this week, or at some point soon. Hopefully we’€™ll be able to do that,” Cherington told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  The GM said he thinks teams can get by without having a frontline ace atop their rotation, though also pointed out his roster has “a lot of younger pitching that we think in time, some of them have a chance to develop into that type of guy.”

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Miley trade hasn’t yet been finalized since the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are “still squabbling about the extra player,” Arizona GM Dave Stewart tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.  The player in question is a prospect Boston will be sending to the D’Backs along with Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
  • The Yankees talked to the D’Backs and Tigers about Miley and Porcello, Brian Cashman told reporters (including George A. King III of the New York Post).  “Did I call Arizona? Yes. Did I call Detroit? Yes. I didn’t have [Yoenis] Cespedes to send to Detroit. We are waiting for something we are comfortable with,” Cashman said.  The GM said he “threw a lot of different ideas a lot of different ways” during a quiet Winter Meetings for the Yankees and he’ll “keep conversations alive” throughout the offseason.
  • The Orioles “kicked the tires” on Reds outfielder Jay Bruce but couldn’t match up on a trade with Cincinnati, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.  In the wake of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis signing elsewhere, the O’s have a definite need for corner outfield help.
  • Scott Boras told reporters (including Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi) that the Blue Jays were one of the teams who had expressed interest in Japanese middle infielder Takashi Toritani.  This would be a rare case of a Boras client signing with Toronto, a disconnect that the agent attributes to the club’s policy against contracts longer than five years.  “They’re the only team that has said that limitation is five years. When you do that, you are cutting yourself off from a pool of talent that makes it very, very difficult to compete, particularly in the AL East,” Boras said.  (It should be noted that the Jays’ five-year policy probably isn’t applicable in Toritani’s case, as the 33-year-old infielder is very unlikely to receive that long a contract from any team.)


Quick Hits: Pirates, Bruce, Rule 5 Draft, Capuano

The Diamondbacks won the Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes, signing the Cuban outfielder to a six-year, $68.5MM contract and drawing praise from some around the baseball world, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.  One AL scout called the contract “a great deal,” since another AL scout told Piecoro that “most people thought it would cost between $80MM-$100MM” to sign Tomas.  It’s possible that the Snakes were able to get a relative bargain, however, due to concerns that other teams had about Tomas’ defense and plate discipline, not to mention career numbers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional that fell well behind the totals posted by such stars as Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig.

MLBTR wishes all our readers a Happy Thanksgiving, and here are some items from around baseball to go with your pumpkin pie for dessert…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly tells Dejan Kovacevic of DKOnPittsburghSports.com that the team’s payroll “certainly can and I suspect will” top the $90MM mark in 2015.  This works out to roughly $20MM in available funds by Kovacevic’s calculations, and “everything I’m hearing is that most, if not all, of that money will be committed to starting pitching,” with the Pirates hoping to re-sign both Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez.
  • The Reds are looking for multiple “inexpensive Major League-ready players” in exchange for Jay Bruce, a rival scout familiar with the team’s demands told Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.  Cincinnati is known to be listening to offers for Bruce, though it could just be a case of due diligence rather than a legitimate desire to deal the outfielder.
  • The Rule 5 Draft is coming up on December 11, and Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper lists some of the intriguing names that are likely or unlikely be picked in two weeks’ time.  BA’s Matt Eddy, meanwhile, examines some of the key statistics and factors that led several prospects to be added to team’s 40-man rosters in advance of the draft.
  • Chris Capuano said “there’s a lot of truth to” rumors he is interested in pitching in Japan next season, the veteran lefty told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).  “It piqued my interest back in 2006….we’re considering it,” Capuano said.  The 36-year-old posted a 4.35 ERA, 2.47 K/BB and 7.5 K/9 over 97 1/3 IP in 2014, making 12 starts for the Yankees and 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox.
  • The Mariners would be hard-pressed to deal starting pitching given their lack of rotation depth, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes, and thus a rumored Hisashi Iwakuma-for-Yoenis Cespedes deal doesn’t make much sense for the team.
  • If GM Brian Cashman truly believes David Robertsonchecks every box” for what’s expected from a Yankees closer, then the team should’ve re-signed Robertson by now, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News opines.  The Robertson/Dellin Betances combo was a major strength for the Yankees last season, though Betances might not be ready to take over the closer’s role.  Plus, as Feinsand argues, “who takes over the setup role if Betances moves to the ninth? Andrew Miller? Luke Gregerson? If you’re going to pay a free-agent reliever, why not spend on the one you’ve drafted and developed yourself?”

Details On Jay Bruce’s No-Trade Clause

We heard recently that the Reds will at least listen to offers on outfielder Jay Bruce. While that still seems to be a long shot, it is worth noting that Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause that would come into play were he shopped.

According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, Bruce can block deals to the Athletics, Blue Jays, D’backs, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees. That mix of small and large-market teams presumably shields Bruce from destinations he may prefer not to play in while affording him leverage if a big-spending AL East club were to come calling.

Bruce had an off year in 2014, but has been one of the game’s most consistent power threats and is just entering his age-28 season. He is guaranteed $25.5MM over the next two seasons, which includes a buyout for a $13MM club option in 2017.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays

The action today was in the AL East, with the Red Sox reportedly reaching terms with both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The day’s moves could well set up a series of others in a division that is setting the early pace in spending. Here’s the latest:

  • With the Red Sox taking on gobs of new salary obligations and seemingly prepared to add more, attention has naturally turned to the question of how much the team could be willing to spend. Owner John Henry mentioned last year that going over the luxury tax line is not necessarily a devastating event, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston has relatively little committed in the future, but is already well north of $100MM in obligations for 2015 even before accounting for Sandoval and Ramirez.
  • WEEI.com’s Alex Speier takes a closer look at the team’s possible methods for freeing salary to devote to pitching. He notes that the cap may not be a hard ceiling for the Sox, though the roster will need to be trimmed regardless of financial considerations. Speier’s colleague, Rob Bradford, evaluates the expected addition of Ramirez in terms of the many moving parts that the organization must account for.
  • Boston’s moves will test the Yankees‘ restraint, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. New York is still putting out the vibe that it will not play in the top of the free agent market, but the temptation is obvious. As Sherman rightly notes, also, the bidding for return targets like Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy, and David Robertson could well shoot up rather quickly.
  • Sources also tell Sherman that the Bombers are pushing harder to acquire a shortstop than a third baseman. The club has made “a series of trade offers” to land one, per Sherman.
  • The Blue Jays are “talking about” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the report is not entirely clear, it seems to refer to internal discussion among the Toronto brass, rather than trade chatter between the clubs. While a recent report indicated that Cincinnati would listen on Bruce, it is difficult to imagine a trade scenario that would entice the Reds and a team looking to add the talented 27-year-old at a discount.

Reds Listening On Jay Bruce; Padres Have Shown Interest

FRIDAY: In response to the report that Bruce rejected the Reds’ extension offers, agent Matt Sosnick went on the record with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick to offer the following statement:

“It is true that the Reds made Jay two offers during the season. The fact the deal didn’t get done had nothing to do with Jay’s desire to remain a Red for life, which is still the case. It was more about his desire to make sure that contract talks didn’t become a distraction during the season. But Jay still greatly appreciated the offers.”

THURSDAY: The Reds have long been known to be open to dealing a starter this winter — Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon are all free agents following the 2015 season — but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that they’re also open to moving other high-priced players. According to Rosenthal, the Reds are listening to offers for Jay Bruce and have had preliminary trade discussions with other clubs, including the Padres.

Rosenthal’s sources indicate that the Reds made a pair of extension offers to Bruce prior to the 2014 season, but Bruce rejected each scenario. Bruce, of course, went on to have his worst season in 2014, due largely to an early injury that required knee surgery. Bruce missed just 15 days following the operation and never felt right after that, GM Walt Jocketty admits. The two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner batted just .217/.281/.373 with a career-low 18 home runs this year.

The Reds certainly aren’t committed to moving Bruce, Rosenthal notes, adding that owner Bob Castellini’s preference is likely to try to win in 2015. Adding a left fielder and receiving full, healthy seasons from Bruce, Joey Votto, Homer Bailey and Brandon Phillips could go a long way toward that end, but the Reds do have somewhat of a payroll crunch on their hands that could limit their flexibility this offseason if they don’t trade at least one significant salary away.

Though Bruce struggled in 2014 following his operation, he’s been a force at the plate throughout his career. The 27-year-old batted .262/.337/.489 and averaged 30 homers from 2010-13. He’s owed $12MM in 2015, $12.5MM in 2016 and has a $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout for the 2017 season. His $51MM extension contains a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to eight clubs, as shown on Cot’s Contracts. Clearly, the Reds wouldn’t move Bruce simply to save cash and would be looking for a significant return in terms of prospects and/or young, MLB-ready talent in a potential deal.


Central Links: Reds, Cubs, Avila, Tigers, Tomas, Butler

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
  • The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
  • John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
  • The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
  • Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.

Quick Hits: Bruce, Lueke, Phillies, Roberts

The Reds will spend the next three to four weeks without right fielder Jay Bruce, who needs surgery to fix a partially torn meniscus in his knee, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay initially tweeted that Bruce might need surgery. Here are notes from around the big leagues.

  • The slow start by Curtis Granderson of the Mets is worthy of panic, whereas Brian McCann‘s slow start with the Yankees is not, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes in a piece about stars, and teams, who have struggled in 2014 so far. Passan cites the holes in Granderson’s swing, which could end up making his four-year, $52MM deal a poor one. Meanwhile, Passan suggests there isn’t anything glaringly wrong with McCann’s game — he has walked less than usual and swung at more pitches outside the zone, but Passan thinks those issues are correctable.
  • Joe Maddon says the Rays decided to designate Heath Bell for assignment rather than Josh Lueke because they like Lueke’s potential, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. “From a scouting perspective, we still see a really big upside with [Lueke],” Maddon says. “At times, you have to be more patient with a more youthful player … We still think if he gets everything together that we’re going to be rewarded by that patience.” In 18 2/3 innings so far this season, Lueke has a 4.82 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro’s moves down the stretch last season and this offseason have helped the team in 2014, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues. A.J. Burnett has pitched well so far, and Roberto Hernandez has been at least moderately helpful. Also, Amaro didn’t break up the team’s veteran core, and Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have all hit well so far. Jonathan Papelbon has gotten good results as well. (Of course, the Phillies are still just 15-14, so they’re only performing modestly ahead of expectations.)
  • Ryan Roberts of the Red Sox could have declined his outright assignment and become a free agent two weeks ago, but he opted to stay in the organization in order to get regular playing time at Triple-A Pawtucket, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. “I didn’t need to go wait for another team to pick me up and go somewhere else,” says Roberts. “I didn’t have time to do any of that stuff. What I needed to do was start playing baseball. Sitting at home for a couple of weeks was enough for me.” Roberts spent most of the last three seasons in the big leagues with the Diamondbacks and Rays, but did spend a chunk of 2013 at the Triple-A level.

Central Notes: Bruce, Phillips, Arroyo, Johan

While Jay Bruce's agent, Matt Sosnick, said his client hasn't discussed an extension with the Reds, he didn't quash the idea either, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.  "Obviously, Jay loves playing in Cincinnati. He's made it clear in the past that all things equal, he'd like to finish his career there and certainly would be open to anything," said Sosnick.  While the Reds control Bruce through 2017 with three guaranteed years at $34.5MM and a team option for $13MM, the idea of a pre-emptive extension makes sense since the slugger will only be 30 upon hitting the open market.  Here's more out of the Central divisions..

  • Passan spoke to one exec who said that Brandon Phillips is as good as "gone" in Cincinnati.  Yesterday we learned that the Yankees made a preliminary inquiry on the second baseman, but it's possible that they're simply looking for leverage in talks with Robinson Cano.
  • The Twins have expressed interest in free agent pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes, and Jason Vargas, sources tell Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.  While the Twins have yet to make a formal offer to Arroyo, the interest appears to be mutual between the club and the 36-year-old.
  • The Twins have also called on Scott Kazmir and Johan Santana, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
  • Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (video link) spoke with Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer about dealing with trade speculation and the possibility of hammering out an extension.
  • It might not have made a difference, but the Red Sox weren't showing any indication that they were ready to let Torey Lovullo go to the Cubs, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  The Cubs agreed not to poach personnel from the Red Sox after Theo Epstein left to take over their operations.