Jay Bruce Rumors

NL Notes: Tulo, Teheran, Braves, Reds, Niese

In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said that he is “at least open to considering” a deal involving star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Twitter link). Last we checked in, Tulowitzki said he was not interested in being dealt, and he is believed to have significant sway with club ownership over his status. All said, there remains little reason to believe at present that Tulo is a serious trade candidate.

We already touched upon a series of interesting rumors involving National League clubs earlier today, but here’s the latest out of the NL:

  • Despite recent chatter that the Braves could consider dealing starter Julio Teheran, the young righty is “not being shopped,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Given his cheap control, O’Brien says the team would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to consider such a move.
  • Indeed, the Braves are more likely to hold off on deciding whether to part with Teheran or outfielder Cameron Maybin, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The more likely trade pieces for Atlanta, he suggests, are veterans on one-year deals such as reliever Jim Johnson, utilityman Kelly Johnson, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Braves have been asked about outfielder Nick Markakis, who still has three years left on his free agent deal, but the team is not making him available. And while Juan Uribe could well be dealt, the club reportedly prefers to attempt to move Chris Johnson first.
  • An executive of a club with interest in adding a hitter says the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That seemingly speaks to the availability of outfielder Jay Bruce, who recent reports indicate is very much in play.
  • The Mets are still willing to deal Jon Niese, but are asking for a player with multiple years of control in return, Stark tweets. The southpaw has turned up his performance of late, racking up eight straight quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, no more than 3 earned runs) since a run of rough outings to end the month of May. He is playing on a $7MM salary this year and represents a $9MM tab for 2016, but can be controlled thereafter through a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, respectively, each with $500K buyouts). Given New York’s evident budgetary restrictions, it has seemed that moving Niese’s salary could be a way for the club to free resources to allocate to the struggling offense, but it’s not clear whether they’ll have much hope of pulling that off in a single transaction.

Heyman On Pitching Market, Astros, Angels, Hamels, Jays

Though many consider this to be a sellers’ market, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his latest Trade Buzz column by writing that the starting pitching market could swing in favor of buyers. Only four teams are in desperate need of a rotation upgrade, he notes — the Blue Jays, Royals, Astros and Dodgers — and new names are being added to the pitching market as the deadline nears. Many executives, however, still wonder if the Tigers will really sell. Several throughout the game expect David Price to stay put with the Tigers, Heyman writes. Here are some highlights from his notes on the pitching market as well as the rest of the trade market…

  • It’s likely that the Rangers will end up trading Yovani Gallardo, and Heyman points out that an NL team would consider Gallardo a bonus, as he’s hit 13 homers in his career as at the plate. The Rangers could also end up trading Colby Lewis, who could step into the back of a rotation for a club in need of some stable innings.
  • The Astros are determined not to trade outfield prospect Brett Phillips, who one Astros-connected person referred to as “an absolute stud” when talking to Heyman. Houston is also interested in virtually every pitcher on the market, though one notable exception is Mike Leake, as the club’s evaluators aren’t particularly high on the Reds right-hander.
  • The Angels‘ recent offensive surge has calmed their search for a left fielder, but they still have some interest in both Jay Bruce and Ben Revere. There are concerns among decision-makers, however, that Bruce fits the same streaky profile that the departed Josh Hamilton embodied. Carlos Gonzalez isn’t on the Halos’ radar at this time.
  • Scouts that spoke to Heyman don’t seem overly concerned with a pair of poor outings for Cole Hamels. Instead, some believe that he may be feeling the rigors of being on the trade block for more than a year. One AL scout said of Hamels’ last start: “He looks fine. It was 100 degrees. He’s playing for a miserable team. And it may be hard to get motivated.” A pair of AL execs opined that the Phillies will be able to get back at least one “huge prospect.”
  • The Giants need to bolster their bench, but a reunion with Juan Uribe isn’t likely. Uribe wasn’t amenable to a bench spot the last time he was with San Francisco, and part of the reason he was dealt from Los Angeles to Atlanta was to get more playing time.
  • The Blue Jays‘ interest in Jonathan Papelbon is “fairly limited” at this point, as the club’s focus at this point is primarily on adding to the rotation.

NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Bruce, Cardinals, Pirates

It’s more accurate to characterize the Reds as “listening” than in gathering up kindling for a fire sale, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets. Other teams indicate that Cincinnati does not seem to be in a hurry to deal potential rental pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. It still seems reasonable to expect that both of those soon-to-be free agents will be moved, though the team does have a number of other assets that pose more difficult strategic questions.

Here’s more on the Reds and the rest of the NL Central:

  • Reds reliever Manny Parra has a strained left elbow, leading MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon to suggest on Twitter that the southpaw is unlikely to be dealt this month. The 32-year-old free-agent-to-be has not performed as hoped for since signing a two-year pact with Cincinnati, though he does carry peripherals that suggest he’s been better in 2015 than his current 4.00 ERA. With a $3.5MM salary this season, Parra certainly could be an August trade piece if he’s able to return to health.
  • Some rival executives have speculated that there could be a potential match between the Reds and Royals on outfielder Jay Bruce, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. He adds that Cincinnati scouts have been taking a look at K.C.’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. With Alex Gordon out and Alex Rios having struggled (though he has picked things up of late), it’s easy to see why there might be some interest from the Royals in the fairly affordable and talented 28-year-old.
  • While the Cardinals‘ need for a left-handed bat is fairly straightforward to assess, the club’s preferred route on the pitching side is somewhat harder to peg, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team certainly has rotation options, Strauss explains, and GM John Mozeliak said recently that the quality work of the staff makes it unfair to say the club is “out on the market looking for starting pitching.” But with some cause for trepidation over the number of innings being shouldered by key starters and relievers, says Strauss, it appears likely that St. Louis will look to make some kind of pitching addition (as it has in each of the last four seasons). “I still think we have internal resources to handle the pitching, but I’m not going to ignore the market or not remain opportunistic if something comes up that makes sense for us,” said Mozeliak.
  • The Pirates have at least some interest in Padres outfielder Justin Upton, but will likely look first at infield additions if the team feels it necessary to fill in for the injured Jordy Mercer, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. We just learned that Mercer is expected to miss at least six weeks of action, which certainly suggests the possibility of an acquisition — particularly given that Josh Harrison is also out. Of course, it is entirely unclear whether Pittsburgh will be looking more for a major contributor or a competent fill-in. The latter may be more likely given that both Mercer and Harrison figure to return this year, at least so far as has been reported publicly.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Pitching Market, O’s, Zunino, Inciarte, Astros

In his latest notes post for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal writes that while he opined on Saturday that pitching-hungry GMs should act sooner rather than later, he spoke to one exec yesterday that plans to wait until the trade deadline is nearly at hand, believing prices will drop late in the month. A second exec opined to Rosenthal, though, that the market for pitchers other than Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels will soften in the coming days. Rosenthal gets the sense that the trade market will “erupt” and action will be “frenetic,” but it might take awhile to reach that boiling point.

Some highlights from his column (though I’d recommend checking out the entire column)…

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette is very serious about wanting to add a bat and has indeed expressed interest in Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, but as Rosenthal notes, the Orioles may have the thinnest farm system in the game. Baseball America ranked Baltimore’s farm just 29th heading into the season, and that was before recent injuries to top arms Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. The team has some interesting names ready at the Triple-A level, but they also need to replace departing free agents Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen and will need to rely on the farm to fill some of those holes.
  • The Mariners aren’t just looking for a backup to Mike Zunino, Rosenthal hears, but a veteran option who would allow them to send Zunino back to Triple-A. Of course, he points out the fact that Seattle had such a player in the form of Welington Castillo but traded him to the D-Backs in the Mark Trumbo deal, only to watch Castillo out-hit Trumbo.
  • The Padres talked with the Diamondbacks about a trade that would’ve brought both Aaron Hill and Ender Inciarte to San Diego during Spring Training, and they’ve made a much more recent inquiry on Inciarte than that as well. The D-Backs are also receiving interest in David Peralta, Rosenthal writes, but Arizona isn’t motivated to trade either outfielder. Both are controlled through the 2020 season. Inciarte is a logical trade candidate for the Padres, in my mind, as a plus defender in center field and a left-handed bat — two things which the club currently lacks.
  • The Phillies may end up hanging on to Jeff Francoeur rather than trading him, according to Rosenthal. While a last-place team hanging onto a short-term veteran such as Francoeur seems counter-intuitive, he notes that the return on Francoeur would be extremely minimal, so the team may value his leadership over the warm body they’d receive for trading him. I agree that the return on Francoeur, who’s hitting .257/.288/.449 with suspect range in the corner outfield, wouldn’t be all that exciting.
  • The Astros do want to add a bat, but the team’s search for starting pitcher is a significantly greater priority, sources tell Rosenthal. GM Jeff Luhnow did tell MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart on Friday that getting a bat is a growing area of focus, however, and Chris Carter hasn’t played since Friday due to an ankle sprain. (He and other Houston first basemen have struggled at the plate even when healthy, as well.)

NL Notes: Mercer, Morel, Cueto, Bruce, Alvarez, Upton

Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer was injured by a take out slide while turning a double play earlier today. The extent of the injury is unknown. The Pirates may activate utility infielder Brent Morel if Mercer misses more than a few days, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club is already carrying a short bench, and none of the three healthy players have experience at third base. Morel was pulled from his Triple-A start today. The Pirates 40-man roster is full, so activating Morel will require a roster move.

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) heard that the Reds did not want to trade Johnny Cueto last month because they feared having to watch him pitch for another team in the All-Star Game.  Of course, Cueto was not named an All-Star and he remains a member of the Reds as of this writing.
  • The Orioles are among the teams scouting the Reds, tweets Morosi. They’re most interested in Cueto and outfielder Jay Bruce. Cueto is a free agent after the season, but Bruce is under contract through 2016 for $12.5MM with a $13MM ($1MM buyout) for 2017.
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the challenges Pedro Alvarez is having in his first season at first base, but he told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he’s not about to lobby GM Neal Huntington to make a move.  “I think our [GM] knows as well as I do what we’re looking to identify as strengths and weaknesses on our club,” Hurdle said. “We will do everything we can to fortify and make our club better. I’m not a fan of saying OK, we need A, B and C when A, B and C are out there [in the clubhouse].
  • Justin Upton was pulled out of today’s game early, but it wasn’t a sign of an impending trade as many speculated.  The Padres simply had a muscle tighten up on him in the middle of today’s contest and he was pulled from the game as a precaution due to weather, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

Angels Interested In Jay Bruce

2:00pm: The Angels doing their due diligence on a number of Reds players, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. There’s no trade brewing at this point with Bruce or any other Reds player.

1:33pm: The Angels are interested in Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Morosi adds that the Halos have a scout in Cincinnati watching the Reds take on the Indians.

It was reported on Saturday that the Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale and Bruce was among the many players listed as possibilities to be shopped.  Through 86 games this season, Bruce has hit .255/.342/.474 with 14 home runs.

Bruce, who is owed about $19.5MM through 2016, has a $13MM club option for 2017 on his contract as well. He underwent knee surgery early last season but rushed back in less than a month, which some believe to be a significant factor in his diminished play in 2014 and early 2015. Bruce can reportedly block trades to the D-Backs, Red Sox, Marlins, Twins, Yankees, A’s, Rays and Blue Jays.

Even though Bruce has only come up in trade rumors in recent weeks, ESPN’s Buster Olney heard that the Reds have had the outfielder “available for awhile.”  For his career, Bruce owns a .251/.325/.467 slash line through eight seasons with the Reds.


NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Soriano, Alvarez

The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.

Here’s more news out of the NL Central:

  • Gerardo Parra‘s strong play has all but ensured that he’ll be traded by the Brewers, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Parra is in the midst of a career season, hitting .311/.345/.502 with nine home runs and six stolen bases. Known for fantastic defense, he’s actually struggled this year per Ultimate Zone Rating (-9.8 UZR). Still, plenty of playoff teams have need of a high average, left-handed outfielder.
  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Rafael Soriano might be “up sooner than planned,” tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Soriano was signed on June 12. He has a career 2.85 ERA and 207 saves in 630 innings. The Cubs have manufactured a pseudo-closer battle. They demoted Hector Rondon from the role earlier in the summer despite solid production. The club also recently called up Neil Ramirez – another candidate for saves.
  • The Pirates would probably like to de-emphasize Pedro Alvarez, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The former third baseman has continued his defensive ineptitude at first base with 15 errors. He’s also offered a .233/.299/.424 slash which is well below average for a first baseman. Unfortunately, the Pirates will have to look outside of the organization to move beyond Alvarez. Adam Lind is probably the most notable first baseman on the trade market. If the Pirates get creative, they could also try a three-team swap for Jon Singleton. Typically, Pittsburgh will look for fringier options like Chris Parmelee. We heard earlier this evening that the Orioles may soon designate Parmelee for assignment.

Central Notes: Tigers, Bruce, Satin, Cardinals

Asked Sunday about the direction that the Tigers will take at this year’s trade deadline, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters, including Chris Iott of MLive.com“We’re trying to win this year.” Dombrowski acknowledged that both Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene have struggled greatly in the rotation of late, though he stressed that the organization still likes both starters and feels they can be viable cogs to a winning rotation. Dombrowski did seem to concede that a poor start to the second half could alter the organization’s thinking. “I don’t know how many games we have,” said the GM. “Let’s say (after) the All-Star break, we’ve got 10, 11 games. Well, if you win 10 or 11 games or you lose 10 or 11 games, well that can change the way you are a great deal.”

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

  • Iott writes in a second piece that Tigers fans need to remember that the decision on whether to buy or sell will not come from Dombrowski, but from club ownership. Dombrowski will execute any trades that are made, but he alone is not solely responsible for the direction the organization takes, Iott writes. All that said, Iott feels that the Tigers’ best chance for a World Series win and a sustainable model of success is to trade this year. The team, which is without Miguel Cabrera for six weeks (Iott feels it’s just as likely that Cabrera is out eight weeks), is playing .440 ball since an 11-2 start and has a pair of gaping holes, Iott notes. With six pending free agents — including David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, who would be highly desirable trade chips — the Tigers can rebuild their system without parting with controllable talent like Jose Iglesias and J.D. Martinez.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds to the recent glut of Jay Bruce trade rumors, noting that he, too, hears the Reds have made the right fielder available. At this time, according to Heyman, the Reds aren’t willing to take on any of the remaining salary on Bruce’s deal. The 28-year-old Bruce struggled to open the season but is batting .308/.386/.549 over his past 50 games. Bruce, who is owed about $19.5MM through 2016, has a $13MM club option for 2017 on his contract as well. He underwent knee surgery early last season but rushed back in less than a month, which some believe to be a significant factor in his diminished play in 2014 and early 2015. Bruce can reportedly block trades to the D-Backs, Red Sox, Marlins, Twins, Yankees, A’s, Rays and Blue Jays.
  • Corner infielder Josh Satin has an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Reds that he could exercise on Wednesday, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Should Satin exercise the clause, the Reds would be required to either add Satin to their 25-man roster or let all 29 other clubs know that he is available to be added to their 25-man roster within 48 hours. (Cincinnati would choose Satin’s destination if multiple teams expressed interest.) Satin, 30, is batting .263/.368/.387 in 225 Triple-A plate appearances this season. He’s a career .243/.346/.351 hitter in the Majors and has been much more effective against left-handed pitching (.793 OPS) than right-handed pitching (.613 OPS). All of Satin’s big league experience has come with the Mets.
  • The Cardinals have a number of players on the verge of returning from the DL, and GM John Mozeliak told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday that, “Part of having an understanding of when players will come back is really driving how our trading deadline strategy will look.” Mozeliak said he hopes to have two to three players back with the team and producing between now and July 31. Specifically, Hummel writes, Matt Holliday, Jaime Garcia and Jordan Walden could all return within the next 18 days. Matt Belisle, Jon Jay and Mitch Harris are also possibilities to join the team, though Hummel paints a less certain picture regarding their timelines. Marco Gonzales, too, is working back from a shoulder injury in the minors and could be a sixth starter for St. Louis in the second half, Mozeliak said.

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Bruce, Cueto, Mozeliak

The impatience of the industry” is a reason Neal Huntington feels teams have been focusing on big league-ready talent rather than prospects in trade talks, the Pirates GM tells Travis Sawchik and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Owners and general managers have “the expectation that you can turn an organization around in a year. Rather than (targeting) the best prospect in the system that may be in A-ball, teams are starting to look for the guy in Triple-A that might have an impact in a year or two,” Huntington said.  Here’s some more from Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the NL Central…

  • Huntington also noted that while he hopes to upgrade the Pirates at the deadline, his roster is overall “in a good spot. There is not a glaring hole where we may vastly have to overpay.”
  • In another piece from Sawchik, he looks at the many ways that the Pirates have looked to keep their players healthy this season.  These innovative and old-school training methods have clearly paid off, as the Bucs have lost fewer player days to the disabled list than all but one team (the Brewers) in the National League.
  • Jay Bruce’s name has only recently surfaced in trade rumors, though ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link) that the Reds have had the outfielder “available for awhile.”
  • Also from Olney’s tweet, the Reds “haven’t officially” begun shopping Johnny Cueto.  The free agent-to-be is expected to be one of the most sought-after pieces in this deadline period.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak indicated to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d look to add a short-term upgrade at the deadline rather than a player or players that would impact next season’s roster.  Mozeliak stressed that his club would exercise “discipline” at the deadline, pointing to a failed 2010 trade for Pedro Feliz as an example of a deal that today’s Cards wouldn’t make.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links collected more items from around the NL Central earlier today.

NL Central Notes: Fernandez, Reds, Bruce, Pirates

Marlins star Jose Fernandez, who shut out the Reds on Thursday, could have been pitching for the other side if things went differently in 2011, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.  Fernandez was initially ruled ineligible by the Florida High School Association four years ago for issues stemming from his defection from Cuba.  The Reds had a $1.3MM deal ready for Fernandez if he lost his appeal, but the hurler ultimately got the decision overturned.

I talked to them,” Fernandez said. “But I ended up playing my senior year. I don’t know what would have happened. Life is crazy. You never know.”

Here’s more from the NL Central..

  • One person familiar with the Reds thinking tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter) that he believes there’s at least a 50/50 chance Jay Bruce is traded in July.  Recently, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard that Bruce is as “as good a bet as anyone” on the team to be dealt.  Bruce, 28, is controllable for three more years and offers an established power bat.
  • Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette turned in his mid-season report card for the Pirates.  Brink gave the Bucs’ front office an A grade for the offseason it had, including the signing for Jung-ho Kang, which was viewed as a risk by some at the time.  Kang has given the Bucs a .267/.343/.385 slash line with four homers while playing solid defense at third base.
  • Reading between the lines, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel suspects that a transition to a new Brewers GM is underway.  Haudricourt reasons that if Melvin was going to remain the team’s GM in 2016, the club would have announced it by now.  Sometime before the end of the season, the scribe believes the Brewers will announce that Melvin is out as GM, giving them time to search for a successor and have someone in place for important offseason decisions.  Earlier this month it was reported that Melvin is considering a new role within the club.