2:34pm: The two sides have been able to re-work the trade and a deal is “all but done,” tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
2:30pm: Olney tweets that things are back on track and the Mets are almost done with the trade.
1:13pm: Rosenthal tweets that the medical issue is not with Bruce or with Nimmo. The Reds and Mets are trying to restructure the trade at the moment, he adds.
12:55pm: The Reds are balking at the medical reports on one of the minor leaguers in the package, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
12:37pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick now tweets that a medical issue may be holding up the Mets’ acquisition of Bruce. Crasnick adds that the severity of the issue isn’t known, but the medicals are no longer a formality.
11:32am: Outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo will be part of the package going to the Reds, reports Yahoo’s Tim Brown (on Twitter). Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that the Giants and Rangers tried to jump back into the mix with late offers on Bruce but did so too late.
11:26am: The Mets are “on the verge” of completing a trade to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). This marks the second straight year in which the Reds have been linked to Bruce leading up to the deadline, although last year’s would-be deal never crossed the finish line, and the Mets eventually shifted their focus from the Reds and Bruce, coming away with a last-minute pickup out outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers.
Bruce, 29, now has the chance to join Cespedes in the New York outfield. The career-long Red is in the midst of not just a resurgent season at the plate, but the finest offensive season he’s ever produced. Bruce is batting .265/.316/.559 with 25 homers, 22 doubles and six triples this season while playing on a reasonable $12.5MM salary. He’s still owed about $4.3MM of that sum through season’s end, and his contract comes with a $13MM club option for the 2017 season as well.
Cincinnati came close to moving Bruce during Spring Training in a supposed three-team deal, but medical reviews of some of the minor leaguers involved torpedoed the deal. That looks quite fortuitous for Cincinnati now, as Bruce’s huge season has rebuilt his trade stock substantially. Bruce underwent arthroscopic knee surgery early in the 2014 season and rushed back in less than a month, and he didn’t look like himself at the plate in either 2014 or 2015 (combined .222/.288/.406 slash line). Now, he seems likely go to New York for what is presumably a considerably stronger package of young talent than he’d have fetched about four months ago.
Bruce will provide the Mets with a power bat to slot into the corner outfield mix, although his acquisition likely pushes some combination of Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto into center field due to Yoenis Cespedes’ now-infamous preference to remain in left field. Certainly, that defensive alignment is sub-optimal, as Bruce’s defensive ratings have plummeted this season, but the Mets have long appeared more concerned with ratcheting up their offensive production (e.g. placing Yoenis Cespedes in center field, signing Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop) and seem content to live with a sub-par defensive alignment in order to achieve that end.
From the Reds’ vantage point, Bruce has long been one of their most obvious trade candidates due to the team’s rebuild and the Bruce’s timeline to free agency. In landing Nimmo, they’ll secure a former first-round pick that can essentially step directly into the outfield in Bruce’s absence. The 23-year-old made his big league debut with the Mets this season but has struggled through 60 plate appearances, batting .236/.300/.291. However, Nimmo has torn up the Pacific Coast League (albeit an extremely hitter-friendly environment) by slashing .336/.409/.517 in 325 plate appearances this season and ranked third on Baseball Ameica’s midseason list of Mets prospects and fifth on the midseason top 30 over at MLB.com.
Earlier today, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that the Mets were the favorites to land Bruce.