Jay Bruce Rumors

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.

Why I Chose My Agency: Jay Bruce

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is a longtime client of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.  I spoke with Jay Monday night about his agency choice.

How he first came into contact with Sosnick Cobbe Sports:

I spoke with some guys from around Beaumont, Jason Tyner and Kevin Millar, they told me I should start speaking with advisors [prior to the 2005 draft]. First guy on that list was Toby Trotter from Sosnick Cobbe Sports. And this was before all the hoopla started, all the big games and national scouting combines. They were one of the first groups to come in. I was a little bit under the radar. I met with Toby, and everything about him pretty much added up to me to a guy I wanted to work with.

On being advised by the Boras Corporation prior to Sosnick Cobbe:

I also interviewed ACES and the Boras Corporation. Everyone knows who Scott Boras is. Boras is known for having the biggest players in the game, the most heralded players in the game. Being a 17 or 18-year-old naive high school student, I went with the name.  A couple of months before the draft, a lot of scouts came up to me at the Texas Scouting Association game, and told me, "We just want to let you know that you are probably cutting out a third to half of the teams in baseball by choosing Scott Boras." I started thinking about it, and I went home, talked to my parents, and they said, "You have to go with your gut. If baseball is what you really want to pursue out of high school, then you probably need to re-evaluate your choice." I thought about it, and I'm still kind of ashamed to this day, my mom called Jim Pizzolatto [his contact at the Boras Corporation] and let him know that I was going to switch agencies. I still see Jim sometimes and we're very cordial, and I don't think there's any hard feelings.

On why Boras didn't work for him:

This is no slight on Scott at all or anything that they did, because they are one of if not the best at doing their job for their players.  It wasn't anything necessarily that they did wrong, but I wanted to take a different approach to the way I "marketed" myself, because they didn't want me hitting for any scouts, they didn't want me filling out any information, they were really really pushing me to go to college. Some guys, that works great for. But I wanted to give myself the chance to be drafted as highly as I could, and they didn't need to push me to go to college, because had I not gotten drafted in the first round out of high school, I was going to college. I signed a letter of intent to go to Tulane University, and I was going to honor that. I had no problem going to college.

It was just not as open of a relationship as I would have liked. They just didn't seem like the way that I wanted to represent myself, they didn't sit well with me. I like talking to people, I like really giving people the impression of myself, from myself. I like people to know what they're getting. They want to keep the distance with high schoolers, I think, between the scouts and the player. Which for a lot of guys, it works, but I just wanted to give myself the opportunity to make the best impression I could on all these people.   They never did anything wrong to me, but I just decided to go back to Sosnick Cobbe. They made the best impression, and they were straightforward. It became a relationship that kind of transcended business a little bit. A lot of people don't like to mix business with friendship, but if I can trust someone that I consider a friend, I can trust them to do business.

On how Matt Sosnick retained Jay's business after Toby Trotter left the agency:

After the draft, I was in the airport going to instructional league. Toby and Matt called me up. Toby said "Hey Jay, I just want to let you know that I'm leaving the agency." He had prayed a lot about it and decided he wanted to do something else. Matt said, "I want to let you know that I am going to be the guy you deal with now." If it wasn't for Matt being on the phone, I probably would have switched agencies and been done with it.

He made me feel like I was a priority. Matt was on the phone and made it an easy decision for me, and that was the true start of what I consider a great relationship both on and off the field. That showed how Matt is as a person. That means a lot to me. He takes a genuine interest in my family and really goes beyond the job description. That's important to me, but it's not important to some people and I completely respect that. I really value my relationship with Matt, and he's also done a great job, so it works out. I definitely understand that if he didn't do a great job for me and we were friends, it would be a little tougher to move on or even have that conversation. I consider him a friend, but he does an unbelievable job with contract negotiations.

On the six-year, $51MM extension Bruce signed with the Reds in 2010:

I was interested in getting something worked out. It kind of became more of a trend, teams locking guys up. I talked to Matt, and he had pretty amicable talks with the Reds. Matt has a very good understanding as far as the numbers and comps and stuff like that. He did a good job and communicated with the Reds well and was really up front with them and let them know I wanted to get something done. The Reds were accommodating as well. Matt relayed what I wanted to them and we got the deal done.

I signed the contract extension with the Reds, and Matt provided the information that allowed me to make a decision that I felt was right.  Matt does a good job of providing information that allows you to make a decision on your own, and that's something that I really like.

On Jay's relationship with Matt and the agency:

The personal side of it is as important to me as the business. I enjoy working with him as a person and I enjoy our relationship as friends, too. Anyone who has talked to Matt knows, he's an incredibly bright human being. He provides me a lot of perspective on things that otherwise I might not even really know about. I think over the years we've created a relationship with a very open line of communication. Over the years he's been an open book and so have I. There's no beating around the bush.

I wasn't just a number, and that was huge to me. That's how I conduct my life. It's an extension of yourself. If people deal with Sosnick Cobbe Sports, and they know that I deal with them, I want them to say, "Oh, that's Jay Bruce's agency. I can see why.

On big vs. small agencies:

A lot of times, the agent and the player don't have much of a relationship outside the business part of it. And if you don't have a contract, there's really not a ton the agent does. They facilitate endorsement deals, but as far as the day-to-day stuff, there's really not a ton to talk about. I never talked to Scott Boras when I had them. If you take the baseball part out of it and think about small companies vs. big corporations, there's more personal service at a small company. I think quality at the smaller agencies has probably gotten much better over the years because the information available to them now is a lot more than it was.

It's hard to go away from the big agencies. It's hard to not go with the proven names of the industry. I'm glad that I gave Matt and those guys a chance and I'm glad that they sought me out as well. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Check out our first entry in the Why I Chose My Agency series, where Matt Holliday discussed his relationship with Boras.



Jocketty Discusses Reds Offseason Rumors

Reds GM Walt Jocketty spoke to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer about some of the free agent names connected to his club this winter…

  • The Reds' first priority is trying to find a leadoff hitter, though Jocketty said that Michael Bourn is too expensive for his club and the same could be true about Angel Pagan.  Jocketty said that the team hasn't contacted Pagan yet and "not that we wouldn’t but I wonder about the money.”
  • Jocketty confirmed that the Reds have talked to Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson about returning to Cincinnati, while the team has also spoke to free agent Joakim Soria.  Broxton is the only one of the trio who would be able to pitch on Opening Day, as Madson and Soria are both recovering from Tommy John surgery.  The Reds are likely one of the eight contenders who Soria's agent, Oscar Suarez, says has shown interest in his client.
  • The Reds talked to Torii Hunter's agent "but the money was too much," Jocketty said.  The general manager doubted that Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers would impact Ryan Ludwick's price since "they're different kind(s) of players."  The Reds have had "preliminary" talks with Ludwick about a new deal.
  • Jocketty told FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi last week that the Reds could deal one of their shortstops (Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius) if the right deal came along, but Jocketty said that neither player is being shopped.  "We’re not taking offers,” Jocketty said. “That gets out and then we have to call Cozart and call Didi.”
  • The Reds have no plans to extend Jay Bruce's contract.  "We control him for five more years,” Jocketty said. “It’s so far off. It’s something we haven’t talked about.”  Matt Sosnick, Bruce's agent, raised the possibility of an extension beyond 2016 for his client earlier today.

Jay Bruce Interested In Contract Extension

Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is already signed through 2016, but he's hoping to add another six years to his current contract. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon heard from agent Matt Sosnick that Bruce wants to be with Cincinnati for the rest of his career.

"[Bruce] made it clear that he wants to be a Red his entire career," said Sosnick. "Jay asked me to approach the team and see if something is there … If the Reds are interested in talking, we would be interested in exploring it. If not, we'll take no message from it and have no hard feelings. We're in no hurry to sign a contract extension. It was a thought that Jay had because he loves the Reds and Cincinnati."

Sosnick acknowledged informally broaching the subject of a new contract with GM Walt Jocketty, but wouldn't discuss financials with Sheldon. Jocketty said a contract extension is "something that has not been discussed at this point."

Bruce, 25, hit .252/.327/.514 with 34 homers in 633 plate appearances this season. He signed a six-year, $51MM contract prior to 2011 that bought out two free agent years. As our Extension Tracker shows, the Reds have a history of signing their players to long-term contracts, most notably locked up Joey Votto's for ten years and $225MM last winter.


Contract Details: Bruce, Lee, Jenks, Pirates, Gomez

Here are some recent updates on contracts from around the majors:


Reds Extend Jay Bruce

The Reds officially signed Jay Bruce to a six-year, $51MM extension today.  ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick broke the story on Thursday. The extension will keep Bruce in Cincinnati through at least 2016 – longer than any other member of the Reds is under contract for – and pay him $50MM in salary over the next six years. The deal includes a $1MM buyout for a $13MM option in 2017, plus a partial no-trade clause and the chance to earn more money with award bonuses. Agent Matt Sosnick represents Bruce.

The 23-year-old batted .281/.353/.493 with 25 homers as Cincinnati's everyday right fielder in 2010. His 5.3 Wins Above Replacement placed him tenth among MLB outfielders last year and even if that stat doesn't impress you, this will: Bruce's September 28th walk off home run clinched Cincinnati's first playoff berth in 15 years. 

A super two player, Bruce would have been arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and was on track to hit free agency after the 2014 season. Reds GM Walt Jocketty has discussed locking up Bruce for a while and this deal will keep the outfielder under contract until he's 29 or 30. 

Justin Upton, who is four months younger than Bruce, signed a comparable extension with the Diamondbacks before the 2010 season. Upton's six-year, $51.25MM deal will keep him under team control for all of his arbitration seasons and what would have been his first two years of free agency.

Next up for the Reds – extending Joey Votto. Like Bruce, the 2010 NL MVP is arbitration eligible for the first time and open to discussing an extension. Jocketty has already signed Bronson Arroyo to an extension this month.


Odds & Ends: Marlins, Cardinals, Bruce, Jeter

Links for Saturday night…

  • Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post says the Marlins are still looking for bullpen help (specifically a veteran lefty), a lefty bat off the bench, and outfield help.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that his team's lineup is set for 2011 after today's Lance Berkman pickup, reports Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter links). Mozeliak described the team's payroll as "leaking," adding that Berkman received a higher salary as a trade-off for just one year.
  • Jay Bruce is optimistic about a new contract with the Reds according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Bruce mentions that nothing is imminent, however. 
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that about five teams called to express interest in signing Derek Jeter before he re-upped with the Yankees, though the shortstop never considered going anywhere else. In fact, he didn't even listen to what they had to say (Twitter link).
  • The recently non-tendered George Sherrill has drawn some interest according to Marc Carig of The Star Ledger (Twitter link). The Yankees are not one of the interested teams, however.
  • Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News looks at Plan B and C should Texas be unable to retain Cliff Lee.
  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic tweets that Chad MacDonald will be the Mets' new scouting director. He served as the Diamondbacks director of international scouting for the last two years. 

Reds Rumors: Bruce, Votto, Rhodes, Cairo, Arroyo

The Reds have had preliminary extension talks with the agents for Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, and those aren't the only players GM Walt Jocketty is thinking of extending. Here are the details, from John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

  • Jocketty says the extension Troy Tulowitzki signed will probably figure into discussions with Votto "to some extent."
  • Free agent deals have been more lucrative than Jocketty expected so far this offseason. 
  • The Reds continue to talk to Arthur Rhodes, who's a Philadelphia target, and Miguel Cairo. Jocketty says he expects to reach a deal with Cairo.
  • The Reds are also making progress on an extension with Bronson Arroyo. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears (on Twitter) that the talks are hovering around three years and $35MM with some deferred money. Arroyo, writes Cafardo, is "not biting yet."

Sosnick On Nolasco & Bruce

Agent Matt Sosnick has two clients in their arbitration years, but right now extension talks for Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and Jay Bruce of the Reds aren't far beyond the infancy stages. Here's what Sosnick told Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald regarding a possible deal for Nolasco…

"I would say certainly nothing's going to happen soon," said the agent. "But I would be surprised if something didn't end up happening. We have had some conversations and I think we've made some progress."

Nolasco earned $3.8MM in his second (of four as a Super Two) year of arbitration, but back in September we heard that "a significant gulf" existed between the two sides during negotiations. More recently the club indicated that signing Dan Uggla long-term was their first priority, but after today's trade Nolasco presumably moved up on the list. The 27-year-old righty (28 next month) pitched to a 4.51 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 157 2/3 innings this season.

As for Bruce, here's what MLB.com's Mark Sheldon passes along…

"If Jay can get compensated fairly over his arbitration years and into his free agency years, we're open to it," Sosnick said. "If it makes financial sense, we'll look at it. There is no hesitation on Jay's part to stay in Cincinnati for as long as possible. He loves it there."

Bruce is due a significant raise as he enters his first year of arbitration (also a Super Two), and he's expressed interest a long-term deal in the past. Perhaps Nick Markakis' six-year, $66MM deal can be used as framework. Bruce had a monster season at age 23, hitting .281/.353/.493 with 25 homers.