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.