When the Cincinnati Reds release their lineup for Sunday's series finale against the San Diego Padres here in a minute, Homer Bailey's name likely won't be the only surprising one you'll see. The Reds, you see, haven't yet dealt RF Jay Bruce despite endless rumors, an obvious rebuild, and the actual non-waiver trade deadline sitting just over 24 hours away.
Checking in on the teams that have been linked in some fashion with interest in adding Bruce, it's probably easiest to start with the San Francisco Giants. They were connected earlier this summer when their OF injury situation fell completely apart, but since that time they've welcomed back Angel Pagan, and last night they officially activated their own stalwart RF, Hunter Pence. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal relayed last night that the Giants still have some interest in Bruce despite their current crowded outfield, if for no reason other than Pagan's contract ends at the end of this season, and Bruce could potentially slide over to LF for good in 2017. That, to me, seems more like something we'd see after the season, however, and doesn't seem on the verge of going down right now.
Another West Coast team that reprortedly considered adding Bruce was the Seattle Mariners, though Rosenthal reported they're no longer an option.
The New York Mets had sincere interest in adding Bruce this time last year, with at one point having reportedly offered talented (yet injured) pitcher Zack Wheeler in exchange for him. That, of course, fell apart, the Mets then added Yoenis Cespedes, made a World Series run, and signed Cespedes to a large deal this last winter. However, Cespedes' deal includes the ability to opt-out after 2016, and given his monster offensive season, it's easy to assume he'll do just that, so adding Bruce - as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon suggested they're considering - would be a bump over the current slump from Michael Conforto with added insurance for their 2017 OF should Cespedes indeed hit the market again in November.
The Texas Rangers appear to be a fit both on paper and in kindred spirit, as they've seen Prince Fielder shelved for the season and Shin-Soo Choo again hit the DL, decimating some of the LH pop they'd counted on. Bruce, native Texan that he is, could help fill that void and take pressure off rookies Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo trying to fill that void, and it's something Texas has at least checked in on, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Though if you're the type of person that actually clicks links and reads them, you'll see Crasnick relaying that the Rangers are more focused on pitching - as their connection with Vincent Velasquez confirms - so a Bruce deal may be no more than a fall back plan, provided that they don't brew up something massive including their previous interest in Bruce's talented RHP teammate, Anthony DeSclafani.
Finally, there's the Los Angeles Dodgers, who at one point were linked with the Reds in a potential 3-team blockbuster, but that seems to have collapsed despite our own hopes and dreams. Instead, that appears to have hit the skids, though Los Angeles remains interested in Bruce potentially moreso than any other team. If the Reds indeed are not asking for the moon in hopes of landing a single super prospect, as ESPN's Jayson Stark informed us, the depth in the Dodgers' farm system means they'd still be a decent place to send Jay for added future farm potential.
So, that's where things stand. There's certainly interest, the asking price appears to be reasonable (frustratingly reasonable, perhaps), and Bruce has done nothing to dent his trade value as of yet. It seems that contending teams, however, are much more focused on pitching and the back-end of their bullpens at the moment, and that's led to a bogged down hitting market, one exacerbated by Jonathan Lucroy's veto of a deal that would've sent him to a team once rumored to have interest in Bruce, too - the Cleveland Indians. I'd expect Lucroy to still be the first large position-player domino to fall, with a suitor for Bruce to follow shortly thereafter.
Or there could be a Mystery Team [TM] that swoops in unexpectedly, or even a last-minute injury that alters the entire landscape we thought we once knew.
Happy Trade Deadline, Reds fans. We'll have more as it develops.