After nearly coming together on a similar trade on deadline day just last year, it appears the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets have finally struck a deal that will send Jay Bruce to Queens once things are finalized. Yahoo's Tim Brown was the first to mention that OF Brandon Nimmo would be coming to the Reds in return for Bruce, and the New York Post's Joel Sherman later confirmed that (and added that a pair of lower-level prospects would be coming the Reds' way, too).
Then, of course, the medical issues hit the fan, and after some four hours of waiting, it appears Nimmo isn't actually in the deal at all. Instead, the centerpiece will be Dilson Herrera, yet another middle infield prospect that ranked as high as #46 on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list prior to 2014, the last year he was eligible for such a list. Still just 22 years old, he's bounced from the big leagues back to AAA since then, but owns a lofty .299/.362/.469 line in 2370 career MiLB PAs.
Bruce deal is done. Dilson Herrera going to #Reds.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
Also included in the Reds' return is 19 year old southpaw Max Wotell, a lanky lefty who was the Mets' 3rd round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He's still in rookie ball, though he's striking out more than a batter per inning while there, and can already dial his fastball up to 95 mph despite the fact that he's reportedly still filling out physically.
Bruce, who turned 29 in April, is in the midst of not just a renaissance at the plate in 2016 after a pair of down seasons, but what's on pace to be an an offensive career year. His 80 RBIs lead the NL, if you're into that sort of thing, and his .559 SLG % is far and away the best of his career. On the whole, he's hit .265/.316/.595 in 97 games this season, welcomed his first child into the world, homered 25 times, and his 53 extra-base hits rank among the best in all of baseball. He's got a $13 million team option for 2017, too, meaning he's more than just a rental, and for the Mets - who may see Yoenis Cespedes opt out of his deal at season's end - it means Bruce figures into more than just their end of 2016 plans.
If you swear by defensive metrics, you're probably worried that Bruce has trouble standing when he gets out of bed in the morning, too. Both UZR and DRS rank Bruce's RF defense among the worst from any position player in all of baseball this year, a far cry from when both used to suggest he was above average at the same position just a few years before. Those awful numbers coincide with a pair of things on the opposite ends of the opinion spectrum - Billy Hamilton taking over in CF and covering massive ground, and the 2014 knee surgery that sent Bruce into an overall tailspin - so taking those numbers at face value seems misleading, at best. Still, it likely put the Reds' front office in a more difficult negotiating position than they otherwise would've liked, but it obviously wasn't enough to completely kill a deal.
Bruce's nine seasons in Cincinnati bore 232 dingers, 718 RBI, 238 doubles, and 1116 hits, and the RF produced 16.1 bWAR in his time with the Reds. The 12th overall pick from the 2005 MLB Draft was a three time All Star, twice took home Silver Slugger awards, finished in the Top 10 of the NL MVP voting on two occasions, and owned some of the single most beautifully coiffed hair in team history.
Thanks for 9 great years, Jay. We'll always have this: