Jay Bruce Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Padres/Reds, Gausman, Cubs, Rox, Cespedes, Marlins

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides a laundry list of free agent and trade-related info. He kicks off the piece with a lengthy look at the curiously passive approaches of two teams that were seen as likely to be active sellers: the Reds and Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller told Heyman that his team discussed a number of deals and felt that, ultimately, the long-term nature of most of the Padres’ trade chips outweighed the value they were offered. The one notable exception is Justin Upton, who, as first reported by Buster Olney, could’ve fetched Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Regarding Upton talks, Preller told Heyman: “…the evaluation was what we’re being offered versus the value of the pick and having Justin for the rest of the year. There were offers right on the line, but none that made us move.” As for the Reds, Heyman notes that many are questioning the team’s decision to hang onto Aroldis Chapman, who is controlled through 2016, when the Reds may not be competitive until 2017. The Reds backed out of a Jay Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap, a source tells Heyman, with a second source telling him that Cincinnati simply “got cold feet” when it came to dealing Bruce. He also spoke to a number of executives who expressed disbelief that neither team was more active at the deadline.

Some more highlights from his column, though there’s far more in the full article than can be summarized here, so it’s worth reading in its entirety…

  • The Diamondbacks are still seeking an elite closer after coming up empty in their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, and they might pursue him again this winter. Heyman lists their priorities as: a closer, a starting pitcher (someone below the tier of Johnny Cueto/David Price) and a bat to slot behind Paul Goldschmidt in the order. The Snakes talked about deals for Jeremy Hellickson, Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington. They came the closest to trading Hellickson, who drew interest from the Pirates and Blue Jays, he adds.
  • Kevin Gausman‘s name was very popular in trade talks with the Orioles, as he was asked for by the Rockies (in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez), the Tigers (Yoenis Cespedes) and Padres (Justin Upton). The Orioles also talked to the Dodgers about Carl Crawford (for a lesser package) but found his injury history and contract too risky.
  • Others are “convinced” that the Cubs will land one of the top starting pitchers on the market this winter, with Price as a leading candidate but Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto all landing on Chicago’s radar as well. The Cubs are expected to shop both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez this winter. The Padres‘ interest in Baez has been reported many places, though they do have some reservations about Baez’s approach at the plate (as, I would imagine, most teams do).
  • The Blue Jays, Astros and Giants all expressed interest in White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija, but the White Sox‘ winning streak plus so-so offers led the team to hold onto the right-hander. Heyman hears that the return would’ve been similar to the one the Reds ultimately got in exchange for Mike Leake, so the Sox simply held onto Samardzija. (Speaking of Leake, he adds that industry consensus pegs Leake as the most likely rental to stay with his new club — perhaps not surprising given Leake’s ties to California and the Giants’ history of retaining such pieces.)
  • The Indians received interest not only in Carlos Carrasco, but also in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. The Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox all tried for Carrasco.
  • The Rockies were always more motivated to trade Troy Tulowitzki than Carlos Gonzalez, as the drama surrounding Tulo had become soap-opera-esque. The team didn’t shop Jose Reyes after the Tulo deal but did have his name come up in talks; Heyman writes that the Yankees are one club that “may have fit,” as they could’ve used him at second base.
  • The Angels made a brief run at Yoenis Cespedes but didn’t come close to landing him. Cespedes won the hearts of Mets fans in part by expressing an interest in signing long-term to remain in Queens, but as Heyman notes, Cespedes did the same in Boston and Detroit without any results. A long-term pact between the Mets and Cespedes is more likely than a reunion with the Tigers though, Heyman writes, as Detroit isn’t likely to enter a bidding war for the outfielder, let alone win one.
  • The Dodgers showed more interest in Cole Hamels than they did in either Price or Cueto. They were completely closed off to the idea of trading either Corey Seager or Julio Urias, though. He adds that right-hander Jose DeLeon wasn’t available in talks for rental pieces, which could imply that he was at least attainable in Hamels talks.
  • Dan Jennings is expected to be welcomed back to the Marlins‘ front office this winter, when the team will search for a long-term manager to replace him. The Marlins are also planning on trying to extend Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, he hears. Talks for Hechavarria went nowhere last winter, and the shortstop’s batting line is nearly identical to its 2014 mark. Defensive metrics are far more impressed with Hechavarria’s work this season, though, for what it’s worth.
  • While Rays relief aces Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were oft-mentioned in rumors leading up to the deadline, other teams came away with the impression that Tampa Bay wasn’t that interested in moving either.
  • There’s an “unhappy scene” surrounding the Nationals and manager Matt Williams, Heyman hears. Williams isn’t beloved by many of the team’s players, who feel that he’s “not loose” and “never relaxed.” There are those who have also questioned his bullpen usage, from the decision not to use Drew Storen/Tyler Clippard in the final game of last year’s NLDS to leaving both Jonathan Papelbon and Storen in the bullpen in close road games versus the Mets shortly after acquiring Papelbon (only to have both pitch with a five-run deficit in the next series). Heyman spoke to one Nats player who said the team is loose and has fun regardless of Williams’ demeanor. “I don’t think it affects us,” said the player. “That’s just how he is.”

NL Central Notes: Chapman, Reds, Brewers

A glance at the NL Central..

  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters that there was a lot of interest in Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce, but the Reds were more focused on the free-agents-to-be, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.
  • Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter) hears that the Brewers and Cardinals were never close on Adam Lind.  It would have taken a big haul for Milwaukee to trade Lind within the division since he also has a 2016 option.
  • Jocketty referred to what the Reds are doing as a “reboot,” but not a full rebuild, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com tweets.
  • Jocketty told reporters, including Fay (on Twitter), that the Reds will try infielder Adam Duvall in leftfield at Triple-A Louisville.

Mets May Have Concerns With Cuddyer; Have Interest In Tigers’ Yoenis Cespedes, Rajai Davis

12:08pm: New York is talking with Detroit about Cespedes, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, he’s one of many options, per the report.

12:05pm: As previously reported, the Mets are open to numerous outfield possibilities as the trade deadline approaches. The club has some concern that outfielder Michael Cuddyer “may not be back,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), which certainly would appear to add a new component to the decisionmaking process.

The veteran had been expected to experience only a relatively short DL stint. It’s not entirely clear, though, what the new issues are that are referenced by the report, or what kind of absence might be expected.

Per Rosenthal, the names currently being considered by New York include not only the oft-discussed Jay Bruce (Reds), Yoenis Cespedes (Tigers), Justin Upton (Padres), and Will Venable (Padres), but also Rajai Davis of the Tigers. Davis is a speedy right-handed hitter who is capable of playing center field, where Rosenthal says the team has real concerns about incumbent Juan Lagares (who fits a similar general profile).



Mets “May Have Lost Momentum” On Jay Bruce Deal With Reds; Could Add Two Bats

11:44am: The talks between the Mets and Reds regarding Bruce “may have lost momentum,” ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Cincinnati is “having second thoughts” about the package being proposed by New York, per the report. Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that New York has concerns both with Bruce’s salary and his inconsistencies at the plate.

11:36am: It’s possible that the Mets could add two hitters today, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. In addition to Bruce, the club is pursuing other options. We’ve heard discussion that the team could look at rental players like Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, and Will Venable, and Martino notes all three as hypothetical possibilities.

9:48am: Rental outfielders are still in play for the Reds, but they won’t move Wheeler for a rental, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). One specific rental that’s still in play for New York is Justin Upton, but Bruce remains their primary focus at this time.

9:22am: The Mets are still working on other outfield options, David Lennon of Newsday tweets.

8:38am: The clubs are reviewing medicals on Bruce and Wheeler, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter links). He adds that it remains unclear whether other players are involved.

8:11am: The divide between the clubs as of last night was whether or not Wheeler alone was sufficient to get a deal done, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.

7:44am: The Mets and Reds continued to work towards a deal that would send outfielder Jay Bruce from Cincinnati to New York, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Reports emerged yesterday indicating that the Mets were indeed pursuing the left-handed-hitting slugger.

There is a growing sense in the industry that something will get done, Rosenthal adds. Though he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, Mets righty Zack Wheeler is said to feature prominently in discussions.

Bruce, 28, is back to posting his typically excellent production at the plate. He’s slashing .257/.341/.486 on the year and also fits the Mets’ desire for future control over a significant outfield addition. While he isn’t really an option in center, as New York is said to prefer, the club could consider utilizing Curtis Granderson as at least a part-time option up the middle while shifting the recently-extended Juan Lagares into a less regular role.


Mets Trying To Land Jay Bruce

The Mets are making an effort to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the rebuilding Reds, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), though he adds that they’re also still exploring other options. The report comes on the heels of word from ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Reds would be open to a Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the current feeling he gets is that New York could pick up Bruce in exchange for Wheeler and another piece. Rosenthal adds to his tweet above that Wheeler would likely be in a deal for Bruce.

Adding an outfield bat — preferably one that’s controllable beyond 2015, such as Bruce — is a known priority for the Mets. Last night, they agreed to terms on a Carlos Gomez swap with the Brewers, but the deal fell through due to reported concerns over Gomez’s medicals and possibly over financial components of the deal. Gomez has since been traded to the Astros.

Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause, but the Mets aren’t one of the clubs to which he can block a deal. The 28-year-old slugger has rebounded nicely from a down season in 2014 — which was quite possibly derailed by in-season knee surgery from which he rushed back — to post a .257/.341/.486 batting line entering play Thursday. Bruce struggled into mid-May, but since the 16th of that month (an admittedly very arbitrary endpoint on this sample), he’s batted .306/.377/.563 with 12 homers in 62 games.

Should a deal for Bruce come together, the Mets would be acquiring a bat that they can control into the 2017 season. Bruce is earning $12MM this year (of which about $4.52MM remains) plus $12.5MM in 2016. His contract has a $13.5MM team option for the 2017 season that comes with a $1MM buyout. All told, he’d cost the Mets about $30.52MM for the next two and a half seasons.

The Mets’ preference in trades is to add an outfielder that can handle center field, and Bruce doesn’t fit that mold, but the team does still have Juan Lagares as an option in center. And, as Rosenthal tweeted earlier, Curtis Granderson could slide over to center field as well, thereby pushing Lagares into a reserve role. That would cost the team some defensive value, of course, though speculatively speaking, that might be a trade-off they’re willing to make given the team’s run-scoring woes for much of the season.


Reds Would Be Willing To Swap Bruce For Wheeler

The Reds would be amenable to a deal with the Mets for outfielder Jay Bruce if the return was fronted by righty Zack Wheeler, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. We heard yesterday that Cincinnati has shown previous interest in the still-recovering recent Tommy John patient (via Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com).

Of course, it’s not clear whether other pieces would need to be involved from either team’s end to make a deal happen. And the Mets’ level of interest in Bruce is not known. The team is said to have preferred a slugging outfielder capable of playing center, where Bruce has not lined up since his rookie year.

But we do know that Wheeler had been ticketed to become the key piece of a deal to add Carlos Gomez, before that deal derailed, so it does stand to reason that New York would consider including him to grab Bruce. While he lacks Gomez’s five-tool superstar upside, and isn’t a stellar on-base threat, Bruce is actually a fairly well-rounded player himself. Since suffering through a rough 2014, he’s back on pace for a 4+ WAR season with big power numbers, decent speed, and sturdy defense.


Aftermath Of The Mets’ Near Acquisition Of Carlos Gomez

As most are aware by now, the Mets and Brewers had agreed to a trade that would’ve sent Carlos Gomez to New York in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but medical concerns derailed the agreement. Reports last night surfaced to say that Gomez’s hip was the issue, though agent Scott Boras issued an adamant denial to FOX Sports saying that Gomez is healthy and has never seen a hip specialist.

Some additional context to the situation as well as the latest on the trade rumors pertaining to both teams in the wake of the failed deal…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Gomez had an MRI three to four weeks ago for an abductor issue — not a hip issue — and the reports from that test said he had no issues with his abductor or his hip (Twitter link).
  • Sherman also spoke to Brewers GM Doug Melvin (All Twitter links), who informed him that while the Mets have concerns over Gomez’s medical records, the Brewers do not. Said Melvin: “I don’t believe Carlos Gomez has a physical issue. Our training staff won best in baseball the last 2 years. We take a lot of pride in that. We don’t think anything is wrong with him besides any nick that happens to any ballplayer.”
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hears that the ultimate issue in the trade may have been financial. A source tells Haudricourt that the initial scenario being discussed would have sent Juan Lagares to Milwaukee, but the Brewers were hesitant because of a publicly known elbow issue through which he is playing and because of Lagares’ $23MM extension, which kicks in next season. The next iteration of the trade became Wheeler and Flores for Gomez, but the Mets then asked that the Brewers include their 2016 Competitive Balance draft pick, which Milwaukee declined to do. Following that, the Mets asked for cash considerations to be included, but the Brewers were also unwilling to pick up any of the tab. It was at that point that the Mets backed out, citing Gomez’s hip, sources tell Haudricourt. (Sherman heard much of the same — Twitter links — though Haudricourt’s report provides much more context on the matter.)
  • The Mets will remain active on the trade market, it seems, and Marc Carig of Newsday hears that the team’s “clear preference” is to get someone who can play center field (Twitter link). Given Lagares’ injury, it makes sense to see the Mets targeting help in that area. I recently broke down the trade market for center fielders, for those wondering what options could be available to New York.
  • The Mets aren’t in on the Padres’ Justin Upton, partially due to his status as a half-season rental, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). The Mets would prefer to avoid rental players, he adds, though he does also note that the team has at least checked in with the Tigers on Yoenis Cespedes following the collapse of the Gomez deal.
  • It’s unclear where this scenario leaves the Mets in terms of trade direction, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The team likes Gerardo Parra but was also unable to agree on a price point in discussions with the Brewers. New York also likes Jay Bruce, but he doesn’t fit their desire for someone who can handle center field. Bruce has just 285 big league inning in center — all coming in 2008.

Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Outfield Bats

5:25pm: Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that he’s been told to rule out an acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers (who are reportedly listening to offers on Cespedes and preparing to “reboot”).

However, there’s been “much” discussion between the Mets and Brewers as of late, Puma hears, though those talks aren’t believed to be focused on Carlos Gomez. That would seem to imply that Gerardo Parra is the topic of conversation, although he wouldn’t necessarily line up with Heyman’s report on pursuing a “big bat.”

2:28pm: Despite making several upgrades already, the Mets “have their sights clearly on a big bat,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. New York has long been said to be pursuing a corner outfield piece, particularly since learning that Michael Cuddyer would hit the DL.

Other recent reports have indicated that the Mets were somewhat more likely to make a value play, perhaps by waiting for prices to drop just before the deadline. But Heyman suggests that the team could still pursue a more impactful piece, presumably meaning the team is at least considering paying a higher acquisition price.

Per the report, the club has previously been unable to see eye-to-eye with the Padres on Justin Upton, but he could seemingly still represent an option. Another possibility is Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Heyman says that Cincinnati previously showed interest in the injured Zack Wheeler in discussions involving Bruce.


Outfield Market Notes: Maybin, Reddick, Mets, Angels, Parra, Gomez

Though the Braves have fielded plenty of interest in the revived Cameron Maybin, and have considered moving him, the team now feels it “would need to be blown away with an offer” to make a deal, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Contrary to an earlier report, Bowman adds, an Atlanta source vehemently denied the suggestion that Maybin had been dangled in an earlier effort to add Angel Pagan of the Giants. Maybin, 28, has been one of the game’s best turnaround stories, with his play dramatically altering perceptions of both his contract and the deal that brought him to Atlanta (which was already widely viewed as a Braves win).

Here’s more on the still-developing outfield market, which just saw one move with Shane Victorino heading to the Angels:

  • The Athletics seem unlikely to move outfielder Josh Reddick, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. In his comments after today’s Tyler Clippard trade, GM Billy Beane said that his club is not presently working on deals involving players who are under future control.
  • Despite a trio of acquisitions already completed, the Mets are still looking at a handful of outfield options, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York has, of course, just brought up top prospect Michael Conforto with Michael Cuddyer on the DL, but the team also designated John Mayberry Jr. and could use another quality option.
  • A source also tells Marc Carig of Newsday that the Mets are still shopping for outfield bats. Carig notes that the team could wait for asking prices to drop on deadline day.
  • The Angels are also still looking at left-handed hitting outfielders after adding Victorino, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Jay Bruce (Reds), David Murphy (Indians), and Ben Revere (Phillies) are all still on their radar.
  • Gerardo Parra of the Brewers is also a player that the Angels are interested in, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Heyman breaks down his market, citing the Mets and Orioles as prime suitors (along with the Halos) for the left-handed hitter. There’s also a classic mystery team involved, per the report.
  • Heyman adds that some in the Brewers organization do not believe that Carlos Gomez will end up being dealt. Milwaukee is somewhat hesitant to move an affordable, in-prime player with control remaining.
  • Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Trade Market series for all the most likely outfield trade pieces. We’ve covered both center field candidates as well as corner options.

NL Rumors: Bruce, Mets, Cueto, Padres

The Reds already made one big move today, could another be around the corner?  The Mets are heavily scouting outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Recently, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com heard that the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, and that could be an indication that Bruce is very much available.

Here’s more from the National League..

  • The Blue Jays‘ talks with the Reds concerning Johnny Cueto never gained traction, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter).  Davidi hears that the Reds were asking for a package headlined by Marcus Stroman.  Cueto, of course, went from the Reds to the Royals on Sunday afternoon.
  • “Industry perception” is that there is some pressure on the Padres to move out future payroll as the deadline approaches, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.  On Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Tyson Ross was drawing the most interest of any of the Padres’ starting pitchers.  Of course, when it comes to finances, the Padres would surely prefer to move the contract of James Shields.
  • The Marlins should get a better indication what they can get for Mat Latos after learning the details of the Johnny Cueto deal, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets.