Rumors surfaced last week that the Padres and Reds have engaged in preliminary discussions that involve trading Jay Bruce to San Diego. Subsequent denials by trusted insiders threw chilly Ohio River water on those reports. Taken as a given that the entire scenario is far-fetched, just suppose …

… the Reds and Padres complete a trade where the principles are Jay Bruce and SP Tyson Ross.

Tyson Ross (27) is entering his first year of arbitration; projected to make $5.7 million. The tall right-handed starter has put together two elite seasons. His ground ball rate (56%) would play well in Great American Ball Park. Ross struck out 195 batters in 195.2 innings last year. Yesterday, a commentator on the MLB-Radio network described him as the Corey Kluber of the National League.

The acquisition of a top-tier SP with three years of team control would allow the Reds to trade Johnny Cueto for a young, MLB-ready outfielder. Cueto, with his talent and relatively low salary for 2015 ($10 million) would bring an enormous return from a contending team.

Exchanging Cueto for Ross and Bruce for a pre-arbitration outfielder would shave $16 million from 2015 payroll projections. (It also essentially prevents the Reds from making the mistake of signing a 30-yr-old Cueto to a 125/5 extension.) That cash windfall would enable the Reds to address the remaining OF spot in ways previously not possible — like taking on a chunk of salary.

The 2015 starting rotation would be: Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Ross, Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon.

The Ross acquisition addresses the dreaded “2015 pitching window” in a new way, through 2017. The Reds could then sign Mike Leake (or Mat Latos) to an extension and rely on Bailey, Ross and Leake (Latos) plus internal guys like Tony Cingrani and Robert Stephenson starting in 2016. If the Reds do fall out of contention in 2015, they could move Mat Latos (or Leake) at the deadline.

A trade that seemingly heads in the wrong direction (trading hitting for pitching), like a bank shot, could end up allowing the Reds to address their outfield needs even better and over a longer period of time. It wouldn’t be giving up on 2015 at all and would strengthen the Reds for the future.

See how easily windows can be remodeled?