In an ideal world, the Nationals would like to acquire a right-handed hitter before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, but they’re considering pursuing Reds left-handed slugger Jay Bruce, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video links). Bruce, who has hit .275/.319/.557 with 17 home runs in 313 plate appearances this year, could be a possibility in the outfield or at first base for the Nationals – to whom he can’t block a trade. Bruce is also familiar with Nationals manager Dusty Baker from the skipper’s time in Cincinnati, notes Rosenthal, who adds that the team recalling highly touted prospect Trea Turner to play center field is also an option.
Here’s more inside information from Rosenthal:
- The back issue that sent the best pitcher in baseball, Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw, to the disabled list Friday will likely keep him out for at least a month. LA now has solid reinforcements in its rotation in newly acquired righty Bud Norris – who had a terrific debut with the team Friday – and returning 2015 Tommy John surgery recipient Brandon McCarthy, though no one would confuse either with Kershaw. Prior to landing on the DL, Kershaw threw the second-most innings in the majors (121), led the league in ERA (1.79), and was on track to set the single-season K/BB ratio record for a starter with a ridiculous 16.11 mark. Not only will Kershaw’s absence hurt the playoff-contending Dodgers, who currently sit in a Wild Card position, but it could also damage his NL MVP chances.
- With a slew of trade candidates in catcher Jonathan Lucroy, left fielder Ryan Braun, infielder Aaron Hill, relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith, and their young starters, the Brewers are a team to watch as the deadline nears. Teams have inquired about Lucroy – who’s the most appealing asset of the bunch – though talks haven’t gotten serious to this point.
- Athletics left-hander Rich Hill could be the most realistic starting pitcher trade target around the deadline for the Red Sox. The 36-year-old spent some of last season in Boston, where he shockingly pitched like an an ace in September before parlaying that four-start run into a $6MM contract with the A’s in the offseason. Hill has also been outstanding in Oakland (2.25 ERA, 10.41 K/9, 48.1 percent ground-ball rate in 64 innings), though he hasn’t started since May 29 because of a groin injury. He’s now off the disabled list in time to become relevant for the deadline, though.
- The Rangers had discussions with the Padres about right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney before San Diego traded him to Miami, but Rosenthal opines that Texas needs a left-handed bullpen option more. In addition to their interest in relievers, the Rangers are also in the market for a young, high-end starter and would be willing to part with just about anyone on their roster if the right deal came along.
- Speaking of Rodney, his contract includes $3.25MM in incentives for games finished and a $2MM club option for 2017 that will increase in value based on the bonuses he receives, so the Marlins will save money by continuing to use him in a setup role.
- There’s interest around the league in Angels lefty Hector Santiago, including from the division-rival Astros, tweets Rosenthal. The Halos aren’t inclined to deal Santiago for an underwhelming return, notes Rosenthal, as the $5MM man has another year of arbitration eligibility remaining. Team control aside, with a 5.15 ERA, 5.38 FIP and 5.02 xFIP in 87 1/3 innings this season, Santiago hasn’t exactly made a case that he’d be worth a quality haul in a trade.