Listen? Maybe. Trade? No.
I’m late to the party on this after a week of vacation but I certainly read the reports that the Reds were “listening” to trade offers for Jay Bruce and others last week. I have the highest respect for Ken Rosenthal and his reporting but I also don’t expect Bruce to go anywhere.
The problem with Hot Stove rumors about teams “listening” about deals or “kicking the tires” on another player or the “mystery team” being interested is you have to wonder what the motivation is of the sources. A team could be trying to get a right fielder from a different team and not like the trade offers. Suddenly, if Bruce is hypothetically on the market — maybe that could make the other dealable player less coveted.
As for listening, I could go to the Apple Store and ask them to listen to my offer of paying $50 for a brand new iPhone 6 and maybe they will. But they obviously won’t be taking it seriously. General manager Walt Jocketty wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least listen and judge the landscape from which he is working.
But trading Bruce now is selling low on a player who had a horrible one season and the return on the trade would reflect it. It wouldn’t help the team enough, if it wants to win in 2015. Based on his track record of offense (and defense), I’m willing to give Bruce the benefit of the doubt that 2015 will be better and closer to the average of around 30 homers and 100 RBIs from 2011-13. He will also be only 28 come next Opening Day. And considering that he’s owed $12 million in 2015 and $12.5 million in 2016, he’s here at relatively reasonable price for the offense he provides. Trading him doesn’t address the primary issue of adding offensive punch because there would be few if any choices on the open market that does what Bruce does for that price.
In the bigger picture, if the Reds were to trade Bruce, or Johnny Cueto — it would signal to me that the firesale is here. Because if they’re going to dump them, they may as well prune other contracts out like the others of the starting rotation and Aroldis Chapman and wait for the prospects to come in 2016 and ’17. It would certainly be a painful route to take, especially in what should be a very competitive NL Central. But I really doubt that Bob Castellini would sign off on that and I don’t think Jocketty would have signed a new two-year deal if it meant dumping players and starting a rebuild where he might not be around to see the payoff years down the road.
I never rule anything out in this game and business, but I think the Reds think they can keep the band together for 2015 and make one giant push to go for the division crown again. If things go awry like this year, they can always have said firesale before July 31.
What do you think?