The Orioles and Reds have engaged in discussions regarding Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. But there isn’t any “momentum” toward a trade, at least at this point.
There’s a lot to like about Bruce as a player, but his trade value remains uncertain. He’s a perennial threat to hit 25 to 30 long balls, a quality baserunner, and a generally well-regarded defender in the corner outfield. But Bruce has fallen shy of the league average in OBP in each of the last two years and his defense and baserunning metrics have also dipped — though, it should be noted, DRS saw him as a +5 defender in right last year. Then again, the power is still there, as his .209 ISO in 2015 fell just shy of a .215 career mark. And youth is still on his side.
Bruce is still just 28 years of age as he enters his ninth big league season. He’ll earn $12.5MM in 2016 and can be controlled for the following year with a $13MM option — or be bought out for $1MM. That’s not exactly cheap given Bruce’s inconsistent results, but the O’s have payroll flexibility even after adding Wieters onto the ledger.
Whether or not discussions go anywhere, it’s worth considering Baltimore’s interest. The team is also said to have checked in on another short-term, high-priced lefty bat in Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, though Bruce makes for a more obvious fit given the team’s needs in the corner outfield. With Matt Wieters deciding to return on a pricey, one-year deal by accepting his qualifying offer, it could be that the O’s are looking to add quality veterans around him — and to fill in for the southpaw power production of Chris Davis — without over-committing for future seasons.