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Cincinnati Reds rumors - Baltimore interested in Jay Bruce?

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A Jay Bruce rumor? Really?

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have made effort after effort to revamp their roster after back to back losing seasons, in the process trading away pieces that didn't figure into their rebuilding plans in exchange for prospects that can hopefully help in the future.  This offseason alone has seen the exits of both Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, as well a pair of attempts to trade away stalwart 2B Brandon Phillips (to no avail).

One player the team has reportedly had interest in trading without much positive reception, however, is Jay Bruce, as their RF has seen his production decline precipitously over the last two seasons after back to back Top 10 NL MVP finishes in 2012-2013.  According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, there may still be one team with interest in adding Bruce.

The Baltimore Orioles are on the verge of signing veteran SP Yovani Gallardo to a reported 3-year contract, and they'll have to forfeit the #14 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft if they do so.  It's somewhat of a watershed move for them, since they'd previously expressed that keeping that high of a pick to help bolster a barren farm system was of utmost importance.  However, if they opt to punt that pick to sign Gallardo, it appears they may be willing to move all of their chips in for a run in 2016, and adding a potent OF bat to that mix at a reasonable rate appears to be the next domino they'd like to see fall.

Bruce, of course, isn't as highly regarded as he once was, his dismal second half of 2015 torpedoing much of the value he'd help rebuild after a knee injury and subsequent surgery sunk his numbers in 2014.  The Orioles may well be looking at Bruce's age (just 29 in April) and first half resurgence in 2015 (.834 OPS on August 1st after 406 PA) as an attractive buy-low move, one that would also come with the added flexibility of a team option for 2017 on the tail end of his contract.  Bruce is owed just $12.5 million for the 2016 season, and given the gargantuan contracts given to the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton, that kind of cost could be seen as a relative pittance.

Baltimore would be hoping that adding Bruce would be a move akin to the addition of Nelson Cruz two years ago, one that would come with little short term cost and risk with a chance to place a slugger in a dinger friendly park at an age where he still has peak performance left.  But as Rosenthal notes, the Reds may be asking for more in return that the Orioles have stashed in their minor league system.  Just today, ESPN's Keith Law ranked Baltimore's system as the fourth worst in all of baseball, and that's with a pair of injury-prone pitchers highlighting the system.  If the Reds were to move Bruce at this point, they'd likely want a bat in return, and that's something the Orioles system just doesn't boast.

It's interesting in that it's the first sniff of Jay Bruce news we've heard in weeks, though it may just be residual fallout from second-tier OF free agents viewed similarly as Bruce being negatively impacted by having draft pick forfeiture tied to them.  Aside from that, though, it seems the Reds would have to be wowed to move Bruce now, and will instead opt to keep him for the time being in hopes he has another sharp first half to boost his trade value.