Here we are, officially in July. Yes, a few deals of note have already been pulled off by several MLB teams - James Shields, Bud Norris, and Fernando Rodney have all been moved - but once the calendar is flipped to the same page that includes the non-waiver trade deadline, it starts to really begin to feel like trade season. For the 2016 Cincinnati Reds, it figures to be a busy month, with several key #reboot moves to be made to continue to change the fortunes of the currently struggling franchise.
Chief among those valuable pieces is Jay Bruce, and yesterday MLB.com's Mark Sheldon relayed that the Reds' RF is willing to waive his limited no-trade clause to help make a move - especially if it means he can go somewhere and play for a winner. Eight MLB franchises are on his current list, which obviously means he can't block trades to the other teams in the league, but one club in particular where he'd control his own trade destiny appears as a decent fit for Bruce at the moment - the Cleveland Indians. With Michael Brantley still sidelined and Marlon Byrd suspended for another PED bust, the Cleveland OF has been tested to say the least, with former infielder Lonnie Chisenhall now getting regular run in RF. It certainly hasn't stopped them from winning in droves, though, as they sit well in 1st place in the AL Central with a rock solid 48-30 record.
The interest in Bruce appears to be a far cry from when it cratered after his miserable finish to the 2015 season, the second consecutive year in which he'd posted awful numbers relative to his career norms. The 2016 season has seen him not just recoup value, but in many ways put on the best offensive show of his entire career. He wrapped up June with a .928 OPS for the month - following a May where he posted a .932 mark - and slugged over .600 for both months. To date, his 134 OPS+ is a career best, and the GABP stigma he's fought for his entire big league life has been flipped completely as his .995 away OPS sits well ahead of his still-solid .810 home mark.
With the Reds well on their way to a date with loss #100 later this year, it's pretty clear that Bruce will be shopped and shopped often. Heck, he's already been tangibly linked with the Dodgers and rumored to be of interest to the Giants. Considering that the likes of Carlos Gonzalez (or maybe even Andrew McCutchen) could also be made available in the next month, the Cincinnati front office will have to be on their toes to find a steal of a deal for Jay, but at least their slugger is making it easier and easier for them both with his play and with his contractual concessions. It's hard not to acknowledge that he's making the failed trade that almost sent him to Toronto this winter look like one of the better things that's happened in this entire rebuilding process.
In other trade-y news, Grant Brisbee highlighted three teams who may throw a wrench in this year's trade frenzy thanks to their Wild Card aspirations, something the bloated leads by 1st place teams are helping to exacerbate.
Over at The Enquirer, Zach Buchanan highlighted the upcoming task facing manager Bryan Price - using the recent struggles by the young pitchers as a teaching point, something he did so well when the team's pitching coach. Who knows what the future holds for the Reds and Price, but for both the future of the current crop of young arms and of Price's reputation should he not be brought back, the response over the next three months will be vital.
Finally, Anthony DeSclafani takes the mound again for the Reds tonight, and he'll be looking to keep his solid stretch since returning from the DL rolling. There's just something about Disco that has me dang excited to watch him continue to develop this year, since he's got all the makings of a bulldog type of top-of-the-rotation pitcher. My outrageous comp for him due to that current irrational excitement: Mike Mussina.