The Dodgers have considered Reds outfielder Jay Bruce as an outfield upgrade, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Bruce would add both left-handed hitting balance and some extra pop to a Los Angeles outfield that has underachieved this season, and may not be getting any internal reinforcements since Andre Ethier’s return from the DL is uncertain.
Bruce, 29, has rebuilt his trade value after a couple of subpar seasons by hitting .280/.329/.575 with 16 home runs over 283 plate appearances this year. He’s hitting for more power than ever before as per the Isolated Power metric (.295), and his 20.8% strikeout rate is his lowest total since 2009.
Despite the big offensive numbers, however, Bruce is still rated as barely above replacement level (0.2 fWAR) since he isn’t bringing much to the table in terms of baserunning or right field defense. Bruce’s defensive metrics have declined over the last two seasons and cratered this year to the tune of a -28.4 UZR.150 and minus-9 Defensive Runs Saved.
If L.A. acquired Bruce, he would be taking right field playing time away from Yasiel Puig, who has the opposite problem — a struggling bat but an elite glove. It seems likely that Bruce would primarily be used against right-handed pitching, as while he’s hit southpaws quite well this season, he has hit significantly better against righties than lefties over his career. Speaking of splits, Bruce has a notable but not outlandish gap between his carer home/away splits (.828 OPS at home, .751 OPS on the road), though a move from the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark to pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium is likely to have an impact.
Though Bruce’s performance in 2014-15 sapped his trade value, his power bat still generated some attention on the trade market as the Reds explored deals with the Orioles, White Sox and Blue Jays, among other teams. Cincinnati appeared very close to dealing Bruce to Toronto in a three-team deal involving the Angels in February, a trade that carries a lot of “what-if” potential given how Michael Saunders (who would’ve gone to Anaheim) has gone on to have a huge season for the Jays.
Bruce’s contract isn’t necessarily a problem for the deep-pocketed Dodgers, though he doesn’t represent too much of a financial commitment. He is only owed roughly $6.35MM remaining this season, plus a $1MM buyout of a $13MM club option on his services for 2017. Bruce can block trades to eight teams but as Rosenthal notes, the Dodgers aren’t on his no-trade list.
The Dodgers have hit .237/.308/.386 with a 90 wRC+ as a team this season, ranking in the bottom third of teams in most offensive categories. The lack of consistency from the outfield has contributed to the lack of pop, as Joc Pederson has struggled against lefties, Trayce Thompson has cooled off after a hot start, Puig has battled both injuries and a decline at the plate, and left field has become the domain of converted infielders Enrique Hernandez and Howie Kendrick.
If not Bruce, Rosenthal notes (in another tweet) that the A’s Josh Reddick or the Angels’ Kole Calhoun could also fit the Dodgers’ need for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Reddick is also a free agent after the season, though Calhoun is controlled through 2019 and would come at a much higher price (if the Halos were interested in dealing him at all).
Bruce is not great defensively, but he is nowhere near as bad as those stats show (one of the reason I really dislike defensive metrics right now, they suck). The Dodgers have a lot of prospects so it should be interesting to see who they would offer.
Defensive metrics for outfielders, at least the public ones, take forever to normalize and they sometimes never do. They’re really very poor. Teams, that have objective data on where OF start (and therefore how long they have to go to make a play) have much better metrics.
When you consider the number of data points available for any given player on an annual basis to measure defensive skills, the notorious lack of stability of the available defensive metrics speaks to them reporting more noise than signal. Non-quantitative methods are still the better way to draw conclusions about defensive skills. Defensive alignments seem to be the more successful science anyway.
Not great defensively?? He’s has excellent range for RF and a cannon arm. He’s among the best.
He’s regressed defensively the last few years. His range is not fantastic and he misses balls he shouldn’t (like yesterday). He does have a cannon for an arm and having a great year at the plate.
We talking about the same guy? I like Bruce and think he can help a lot of teams, but he’s definitely a poor defender, outsider of his arm. No range at all anymore.
I really hope they make this trade. Should really try to get Miller from the Yankees also.
The Dodgers regime tends to make deals with teams they have dealt with previously, which makes these three names interesting. A more interesting trade with the A’s would be if Sonny Gray was added to the mix. Yes, the Dodgers may have to give up more prospects, but Gray is young and controllable, and we need a Robin to go with our Batman (Kershaw). Getting Reddick and Gray would be amazing, not just for this year but for several years. Gray would give us a powerful 1/2 punch we need to either overtake the Giants or snag the wildcard. Bruce would definitely help us with our need of a power bat, but I’d also like to see a starting pitcher like a DeSclafani or Lamb be part of the package. As far as Calhoun is concerned, I really like him, but I don’t see the Angels trading him unless the got a huge haul of minor leaguers and at least one proven big league player. I think a trade for Reddick and Gray, even if we have to give Oakland guys like DeLeon, Holmes, Wood, Scavuzzo and Kike’, makes real sense for the Dodgers.
Way too light of a package for gray and reddick. Oakland has 3.5 more years of gray via arbitration. 3.5 years of an ace pitcher will take more.
Unfortunately for the A’s, the resale value for Gray is not what it once was. Not only is he having a pretty awful season, he isn’t showing convincing signs of shaking the slump. The Dodgers need someone they can slot into the #2 spot and know what they are getting, especially if the price is high. Not sure Gray is that player now.
Gray is having a bad season due to uncharasistic walk and hr rates. Hes walking over 3 and the hr rate is up near 16% well above the roughly 9% he posted previous seasons. His velocity is just a bit slower but not enough to be concerned about.
Hes lower in value but can still command a good return because while he’s having an un characteristic season itll keep him lower cost wise his 1st time through arb.
So he’s having a bad season because he isn’t pitching well? I could have told you that. For now Gray is a project that might not work out. This lowers the level of interest from teams in contention, which basically is the A’s market for him.
I didnt say gray isnt pitching well. Hes just having an unlucky season. Proven by the fact he’s almost double his HR rate the previous two seasons. No way gray continues to post 16% HR rate. Also, vogt has been nearly triple as bad at pitch framing than he was last year thus far. Which explains why grays walk numbers are up- if hes not getting boarderline calls due to poor pitch framing itll increase the walk rate.
Somehow gray is a project cause of one terrible half of baseball, ok……beane isnt selling low on gray. He’ll wait it out, let him regain form, and then he’ll be even more expensive in the off season. Want gray now without giving up de leon urias and others cause he regained form? Offer an enticing package.
No, I said he was. A dramatic increase in a pitcher’s HR allowed rate can be from a number of causes, but luck is not one of them, not after a half a season is in the books. All of his numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Blaming it on the catcher probably isn’t going to work, either.
Gray might well be great again, but it’s pretty clear that at this point he is far from great. That makes him a project. As for the chances the Dodger give up Urias for Gray, I would put them at no better than zero. I can’t see the Dodgers being interested in Gray at all, really.
To get Gray and Reddick from Oakland they would have to offer one of their top 4: DeLeon, Urias, Montas, Holmes…in addition they would likely have to include Micah Johnson and someone else…Joc Pederson maybe…and that would just be so Oakland didn’t hang up the phone immediately…
I think teams will think twice about Montas. Holmes is probably available along with their plethora of arms that are almost ready at AAA. Can’t keep them all plus Micah is probably included, Barnes is in play both of which are blocked. Beane wanted Thompson bad. As much as it would hurt I wonder if FO is receptive to it. It’d have to be a huge package though that’s for sure.
Bruce would help, but it sure would be better for the Dodgers to pay a little extra and upgrade with a LH OF who can hit righties *and* lefties.
Bruce’s splits versus lefties and righties are actually pretty similar. He’s hitting .286 and .271 versus lefties and righties, respectively
I’m not familiar enough with Bruce to know why he had such down years in 2014-15. Injuries?
Yep. Basically played on one leg for half of 14 and still wasn’t full strength in 15
Thanks for the info!
He hurt his knee and probably came back a little early. As far as the plate goes, he was chasing and swinging at anything within a foot of the plate. He’s turned it around this year and stopped chasing as bad, and is more selective.
Bruce had knee surgery in 2014, and came back way too fast, much earlier than expected or intended, and it didn’t go well. In 2015 he had a strong first half, but a very bad second half for some reason, with both his BB totals and BABIP plummeting in the second half.
interesting to note that a couple years ago, the Dodgers were considered to be OF rich!
Interesting to see what kind of a deal could be worked out here. Maybe Verdugo or Bellinger plus a lesser prospect. I really like the scouting reports on Johnson and Calhoun
Verdugo and Bellinger are both fits for what the Reds need, who’d probably be better fits than anyone any other Bruce-suitor could offer. The Reds’ outfield future currently consists of Jesse Winker and a bunch of question marks.
Micah Johnson, the Reds already passed on him in the 3 team Frazier-WhiteSox-Dodgers trade. They didn’t want him then, and he’s had a bad season in AAA at age 25. With CF Hamilton, SS/2b/CF Peraza, and entrenched 2b Phillips the Reds have no use for him.
Calhoun is interesting, but is only 5’8 and sounds like a future LF. As a ‘lesser prospect’, sure.
C/2b Austin Barnes, 26, is a guy any team should be able to find a roster spot for. He’s an on-base oriented catcher who can also play 2b/3b. Tucker Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera have both done well for the Reds with Mesoraco out, but Barnes would be an interesting addition to the mix, again as a ‘lesser prospect’.
Just what they need. Another OF to add to the logjam.
There’s no logjam anymore lol
There’s no log jam anymore lol
Reds fans want Verdugo for sure, but no on Johnson. Barnes / Calhoun would be nice to add as well, but Verdugo is going to be a must for Bruce.
This wouldn’t be a bad move. If Puig continues to make adjustments I can see this as a LF platoon with Thompson or just Bruce’s gig. Never the less he’s healthy and driving the ball.
Shoot they can’t put him in left?
Defensive WAR . Bruce is better bat and clubhouse influence than toxic Puig. I wonder if the Reds are interested in Yusiel?
I have more faith in Puig rediscovering his bat, than I do Bruce rediscovering his glove.
Can’t hurt to kick the tires though – this Dodgers team needs a boost to keep up with the Giants pace.
Bruce has a GREAT arm. Just look at what he did yesterday throwing out the runner at home. He’s got a cannon!
Bruce to the Red Sox you don’t need a lot of range to play LF in Fenway. Maybe for Owens & Swithart
The Reds would jump on that in a heartbeat.
If it’s the BoSox … Benintendi will be in package guaranteed…
Never going to move a prospect like him for a half year rental.
Bruce has a 13 million dollar team option in 2017, so he’s not a half year rental. There’s a 1 million dollar buyout if he flubs.
looking at comps from last season the best comp is Cespedes going from the Tigers to the Mets Detroit got Michael Fulmer And before this season, he was listed by several outlets as being around #50 in their top prospect lists. Benintendi fits that bill and is a Cincy kid. The Reds LOVE going after hometown guys more than any other franchise. Boston will be asked for Benintendi…. GUARANTEED.
the Dodgers likely will need to send two of their best prospects for Bruce.. Most Reds fans are shouting for Verdugo to be one and the Reds pull the trigger when adding Bellinger or Barnes (most likely) to the mix..
Bruce will cost as the Reds will be selling high.