For days, weeks, months, oh hell, even years we've been saying that Walt Jocketty isn't doing anything. He leaves beat writers scratching their heads about what to write. Day after day, we are left with hearing "Nothing is happening". What we've come to know is when Walt Jocketty looks like he is doing nothing, two things are happening. He is literally not doing anything, or he is doing everything. The Shin Soo Choo and Mat Latos trades came out of the fog of "we have no money and we're talking to no one". If there is one thing we can say about Walt is he can get creative. Maybe Bob has been holding him back this entire time.
We have talked about it previously, and Cy just wrote a great article on the topic, but what if the most responsible thing to do is blow up the team and play for the future? The farm system isn't in a bad spot, but most players won't be able to make an impact until 2016 or 2017. Even then, we could be waiting for our next window because of the players we will most likely lose after the 2015 season. 2015 could realistically be the last big chance we have for a few years. We have a very good rotation. We have some of the most exciting players in the game in Cueto, Chapman, Votto, Phillips, Hamilton, and Bruce. There are definite pieces there to help the Reds make another push, but that is also dependent on trading from our rotation or the few good prospects we have in the minors. So, do you play for today or for tomorrow?
We've thrown names around for trades to improve the club and lower payroll. The typical names are Latos, Leake, Cueto, Chapman, and maybe even Votto. One name that hasn't been mentioned is Jay Bruce.
Until now, it wasn't something I had even considered. I wasn't even taking the whole selling thing seriously. Then, Ken Rosenthal had to go and do his job.
If you can't get Walt Jocketty or his minions to talk, the next best thing to do is ask other teams what Jocketty is doing. The word on the street is the Reds are talking about selling, and have been in discussions with teams. One player that has apparently been discussed is Jay Bruce, a fan favorite coming off a down year due to injury, and a guy who is one hell of a baseball player on a very team friendly contract. Jay Bruce is owed 12 M, 12.5 M, and 13 M the next three seasons. That is very cheap for his quality of play when he isn't injured.
If the Reds intend on selling, it would be best for them to go as far as possible. Wins don't mean much unless they are getting you to the playoffs. Outside of Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce could be one of your top returns. His injury-plagued season would imply his value is at his lowest, but the contract Jocketty signed Bruce to is what holds the highest trade value, in my opinion. Jay wouldn't be a guy you just trade for one year of control like Cueto, Latos, or Leake. You get three years of Bruce, assuming the team option isn't void with a trade. Essentially, Bruce would only have to be a 3 WAR player to be worth the money each year, and the contract doesn't escalate much.
Another thing worth mentioning is, according to Rosenthal, Jocketty has proposed two different extensions to Bruce last year. Bruce turned them both down. Prior to the 2013 season, it was reported that Bruce wanted to spend his entire career as a Red next to Joey Votto. Before his debut, Bruce even wanted to sign a Longoria type contract, but the Reds said no. What is the hold up now? My speculation would be years. Jocketty isn't the type of guy to low-ball his contracts. The money may be deferred, but the player still gets his worth. The funny thing with the decline is it was after arguably Bruce's best season ever. I'd guess whatever the offer was it wasn't long enough for Jay.
One of the teams that are being rumored to be after Bruce is the San Diego Padres. The Padres have a decent minor league system, but one that is lacking high impact talent. I couldn't see a deal happening without Hunter Renfroe involved. He just Jesse Winker'd the California League, while struggling in AA. He also tore it up in the Arizona Fall League. Renfroe has outstanding power that would play well in GABP. Another intriguing name is Jace Petterson SS, who was ranked as their #6 prospect by John Sickels. He hit .306/.406/.464 in 300 AB's in AA. He OPS'd under .300 in less than 60 MLB AB's.
I don't know much about what Bruce could garner in a trade because I'm bad at valuing trades. I do know that Walt should not sell low. Bruce has too much talent and too good of a contract to just unload. To do this trade, the Reds need to be committed to selling and it shouldn't end with just Bruce being traded. If Bruce is the first to go, I'd expect Cueto, and one of Latos or Leake to follow. Then, you might as well get rid of Chapman who is a FA after 2016. It would give the Reds the ability to build around Votto, Hamilton, Frazier, Mesoraco, and hope the plethora of young pitchers (I'm looking at you Bob Steve) pan out.
Thinking about all of those prospects we could net makes me giddy, but I would be totally sad that the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year, and my favorite player, wouldn't be playing for my favorite team anymore.
Just don't let Kevin Towers pick the prospects.