A medical snag has stalled a three-team trade involving Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. The proposed trade between the Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, and Toronto Blue Jays has been delayed, according to reports by ESPN.
In the exchange, Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders is expected to go to L.A. while the rebuilding Reds will get prospects from the prospect-poor Angels. The Blue Jays are not on Bruce’s eight-team no-trade list. Bruce spoke about the awkwardness of the trade talks via the Cincinnati Enquirer. Bruce didn’t seem to be bothered by the sudden developments.
“No, not at all — if it were somewhere else, it’d be awkward right now,” Bruce explained. “This is what I know, this organization has been much more to me than just a baseball team. I’ve been here since I was 18 years old, and this is all I know. I look forward to still being here and if something does happen, I completely understand. It’s part of the business. I mentioned before, obviously, I truly believe the Reds have to do everything they can to improve the organization and if they end up feeling that making a move with me is part of that plan, I respect them for that.”
Bruce is in the last year of his six-year deal, earning $12.5 million in 2016, but he does have a team option for one year at $13 million with a $1 million buyout for 2017, as well as a limited no-trade clause. Bruce can veto deals to eight different teams. In contrast, Brandon Phillips has the right to deny deal with any team.
Bruce met with reporters at Reds spring training camp in Goodyear, Arizona, on Tuesday morning and said he’s still waiting for a resolution to his situation. He expressed concern that the constant trade updates will become a distraction in camp.
The Reds outfielder knows that there are tons of rumors that come along with the trade talk. At this point, he’s trying to concentrate on what’s happening in Arizona. Bruce wants to be as productive as he can while still in a Reds uniform. That means focusing on playing and not the things he hears.
Various sources familiar with the trade talks think Saunders’ knee is a concern. Saunders played in just nine games for the Blue Jays this past season due to left knee problems. Saunders said he met with Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins and manager John Gibbons to discuss reports of the proposed trade.
“That’s kind of the human element of it,” Saunders said. “They made sure I wasn’t paying any attention to the rumors, and they assured me that they’re just rumors and nothing more. I expect to be a Jay, they expect me to be a Jay and that’s how I’m approaching this spring training.”
Saunders signed a one-year, $2.9 million deal in January with the Blue Jays. He hit 19 home runs and had 21 stolen bases with the Seattle Mariners in 2012. In 2015, Saunders hit.194 in 36 plate appearances.
Nobody from the team spoke to Bruce on Monday night or Tuesday morning about the potential trade. However, Bruce said he felt it was the right decision by the team, including president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty, general manager Dick Williams, and Price. Reds position players officially reported to camp on Tuesday, Jay Bruce among them.
As of this past season, Toronto was one of the teams Bruce could not be traded to without prior approval. Bruce removed the Blue Jays from his no-trade clause several months ago.
Reds manager Bryan Price commended Bruce for his handling of the situation.
“Our good fortune is that we’ve got a real pro in Jay Bruce, who is handling this stuff unbelievably well. It’s just kind of where we are with the game and the guys in this generation are getting conditioned to the fact that it’s the lay of the land now.”
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]