Ben Franklin said there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. If he were alive today, Franklin would add something about the Reds bullpen and home runs.

Here’s another sure thing: Jay Bruce is going to be traded.

Right? It’s a lock. In fact, it’s hard to believe a deal hasn’t already happened.

Reports last July had the Reds trading Bruce to the Mets. Word this spring was that the Reds right fielder was heading to Toronto. When he and his wife arrived to Goodyear, they said they weren’t unpacking their bags. It was an open secret that even though it would be selling low, Jay Bruce was about to be moved. You could read it right there in the Rebuild Binder. It’s own slide in the PowerPoint presentation.

Except Jay Bruce is still in a Reds uniform. And boy, is he hitting. Nearly two months into the 2016 season and we’re figuring out how much Bruce has rebuilt his trade value. If he keeps up any semblance of this pace (129 wRC+), it will be the perfect time to deal him. Bruce’s current contract, including an option year, runs through 2017, which doesn’t make it past the shuttered window of non-compete.

So of course the right move is for the Reds to trade Jay Bruce.

Unless it isn’t.

Instead, what if the Reds offered Jay Bruce a 3-year extension?

Before we decide whether that’s a really crazy idea or just a crazy idea, let’s unwind Bruce’s financial history with the Reds.

The Reds signed Jay Bruce out of West Brook high school with the 12th pick of the 2005 draft. After rocketing through the Reds minor league system, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus ranked him the #1 prospect in baseball after the 2007 season. You could say expectations for him were a bit high. Denver high.

Jay Bruce debuted with the Reds at the tender age of 21 on May 27, 2008. He played for league minimum salary in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Reds had waited until May to call him up, so the club still had four years of control over Bruce. But because the front office didn’t wait four more days, Jay Bruce qualified for Super Two arbitration status. That meant he was eligible for arbitration those four years.

To be fair, the cut-off point for Super Two varies from year to year. But the miscalculation – in a year the Reds lost 88 games – cost the team about $14 million, to Bruce’s benefit. That number is based on a comparison of what Bruce earned with what Andrew McCutchen earned, the #11 pick in 2005 who was not a Super Two.

[The Super Two flub with Bruce provides a specific example of what’s at stake in the timing of the permanent call-ups for Jesse Winker, Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed. Last year’s Super Two cut-off was 130 days. A similar Do Not Cash Before date this year would be May 25. Stephenson has already spent 5 days with the Reds, so push his date back accordingly. Peraza’s date to allow another year of team control is June 1.]

But back to Jay Bruce and the winter of 2010. Instead of going to arbitration, the Reds and Bruce reached an agreement on December 10, 2010 in which the club would pay their right-fielder $51 million over six years. Bruce also agreed to a $13 million team option for an additional season. The extension bought two years of Jay Bruce’s free agency and the option covers a third season. Bruce is now playing in the last of those six years, earning $12.5 million.

That brings us to the present day question: Should the Reds offer Jay Bruce an extension that reaches the time when the club starts playing to win big?

The first and hardest part of answering that question is figuring out what Jay Bruce will be worth. That’s difficult because of the variability of Bruce’s value over the past five seasons. His WAR – using an average of FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus calculations – has ranged from 5.0 (2013) to -0.4 (2014).

Making a projection more challenging is that we’re not trying to put a number on his 2016 production, or even 2017. For a 3-year extension, we have to estimate Jay Bruce’s value in the years 2018-20. That’s daunting, but necessary. Difficult or not, the front office has to do that calculation whether they plan to trade or keep him. So let’s give it our own back-of-the-envelope, Friday afternoon try.

Jay Bruce is 29 this year. That means a 2018-20 extension would cover his age 31-33 years. That places Bruce on the downside of his aging curve, to be sure, but not the steepest part. One common estimator is that players lose value at an average rate of 10% through age 30, 15% between ages 31-35 and 20% age 36 and beyond. Milage varies, of course.

If you start with a projection of 2.2 WAR for the 2016 season – that’s an average of his past five seasons including his 2014 lost to injury – and use those aging discount figures, Jay Bruce would earn 4.3 WAR from 2018-20. This estimate is clear-eyed. It isn’t based on Silver Slugger, injury-free Jay Bruce. It takes the bad with the good.

How much should the Reds pay for 4.3 WAR over those 3 seasons? A common estimate based on free agent contracts signed in the past off-season is that clubs paid about $8 million per WAR. That’s also the number a member of the Reds front office used a few months ago. That dollar amount increases every year as revenues flood into the sport. Players will get their share. Using a conservative wage-inflation estimate, 4.3 WAR in 2018-20 would cost about $43 million in a free labor market. You could nit-pick the various components of that number. But $43 million is a better guess than $33 million or $53 million.

So $43 million for Jay Bruce over 3 years – say $13.5 million (2018), $14.5 million (2019) and $15 million (2020).

Would either side say no?

Jay Bruce has expressed numerous times that he wants to keep playing for the Reds (although no confirmation since he’s experienced the Ben Franklin bullpen). Bruce could be interested in an extension like this. At age 33, it’s ending point, he could still sign another contract. On the other hand, Bruce might believe he could find a better long-term deal now, maybe with an American League club.

From the Reds viewpoint the extension could make sense. Power is scarce and Jay Bruce provides it. The only National League player who has hit more home runs since 2010 is Giancarlo Stanton. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be wrong for the Reds to shop or trade Bruce. Based on his 2016 numbers, Bruce has jacked up the return.

Although imagine this blueprint for 2018: Bruce in RF, Jesse Winker in LF, Adam Duvall at 3B (his natural position), Eugenio Suarez at SS (his natural position) and Jose Peraza at 2B. Or something like that, maybe switch Peraza and Suarez. That’s a bargain-basement plan and not without flaws. But it’s a plan.

And it includes keeping Jay Bruce around from 2018-20. Say, at $43 million for 3 years.

88 Responses

  1. Sr VP of Typing Ops (@thecvail)

    any extension would make Jay a 10/5 guy, which would make trading him down the road even more difficult

    I’d rather see the Reds spend money to extend the young guys (Suarez, DeSclafani, even Billy)

    you’d hope that between Duvall, Schebler, Holt, Winker, Ervin, etc, you could find a 2 WAR outfielder for significantly less than $14 million a year

    • mdhabel

      yeah, Steve almost had me convinced to hang on to Bruce but these are good points and especially if Walt/Dick are able to find someone to overpay, which they are seemingly good at doing, I think moving him soon makes most sense.

  2. Todd

    Sign me up–or sign him up rather. I’d be for it. Bruce has power, has been a stand-up guy in his comments on his performance, and has maintained his interest in staying with the Reds (unless he has changed his mind amidst all the rumors). The team will need some veteran leadership to go with the youth and it isn’t clear there is a prospect pushing his way forward, although I wonder about Phil Ervin in 2018. My greatest dissatisfaction in the rebuild was almost trading Bruce in the spring in what seemed like nothing more than a salary dump, although we can’t be entirely sure.

  3. enfuego

    Seems a pretty reasonable deal to keep a guy who seems to fit in and represents the organization. At some point, its nice to have guys who provide an identify for the team that even casual fans will know and root for. It is still possible that he will finally put together the kind of run over an extended time everyone has expected for years. That said, I’d listen to offers if another team were willing to make it worthwhile. Also, if I were his agent I think I would probably suggest trying to sign a six year deal at age 31 rather than what may be available when he is 33.

  4. Dayton Tom

    It’s hard taking the emotion out of the equation. I’d hate to see Bruce go as he’s such an articulate, level-headed good guy. And I wonder if we’d wait for a good-fielding (my assessment), power-hitting RFer as long as we’ve waited for an Adam Dunn replacement. On the other hand, that’s a lot of moola and one would hope as stated above that we’d be able to find someone from the list above (or perhaps through a trade/free agent) that we’d find someone just as good, if not better. But of course with a trade/FA, you are presumably spending $$ anyway.

    Well, this is above my pay grade, as someone famous reportedly said. I’ll be sorry the day he eventually does go as I’ve enjoyed watching Bruce play all these years. But whatever happens, I’ll continue rooting for the Reds, no matter.

  5. dan

    All the hate that Brandon Phillips get for refusing trades. Now just imagine Jay Bruce being able to do the same as a 10/5 player. No. No. No. Never again. All the advantage and benefit goes to the player. Trade him while the iron is hot. This time next year we will once again be cursing his name.

    • Steve Mancuso

      If the Reds had signed Phillips through his age 33 season (2014) instead of his age 36 season (2017) it would have been less controversial. That’s a big difference between what I’m proposing with Bruce and what the Reds did with Phillips. I’m not against trading Bruce, though.

    • Big56dog

      Agree, It is real hard to know when to sell high, seems like Bruce was in a bad slump a week or so ago down in the .230’s people were grumbling we missed out.
      He is at 0.2 WAR and we are a 1/4 of the way through the season. If they kept Bruce they should have kept Frazier, but they should have got more for Frazier

    • Steve Mancuso

      If Bruce could keep his numbers up through June, the market for him would be solid. He’d be viewed as a power source for 1.5 seasons, as the team would certainly pick up his 2017 option. I’d expect that to bring back a good prospect or two. Partly depends on if any of the contenders suffer a RF injury.

  6. eric3287

    No. I say this as possibly Jay Bruce’s biggest fan. He debuted the day my sister graduated high school and I still give her crap about that.

    The issue isn’t money, it’s a roster spot. There isn’t any guarantee, or any reason beyond “hope” to really think, that the Reds will be competitive in 2018-2020.They need to spend as much time this year and in the next two years giving roster spots to players who might actually be productive the next time the Reds are competitive.

    A team in the Reds position doesn’t need to extend an aging RF in the hopes of getting 4 WAR over 3 years for $40+ million. The pool the Reds should be selecting from in that period isn’t a free market, but rather current minor-leaguers who will be making league minimum or in their 1st/2nd year of arbitration. If the combination of Ervin/Winker/Yorman/Duran + what they can get in return of Bruce does not equal 4 WAR they are in bigger trouble than anyone wants to admit.

    • dan

      +1 better points than me and I thought I nailed it.

    • IndyRedMan

      He won’t be 30 til around opening day next year…that’s not aging

      • eric3287

        Jay Bruce was the first Reds player younger than me (by 30 days), so it pains me to say it, but it’s true. They’d be signing him for his age 31-33 seasons. And for a corner outfielder without great plate discipline, that would constitute an “aging” player.

    • lwblogger2

      I love Jay Bruce and you’re pretty much where my thoughts are on it as well… I’ll also add that it may not be a bad thing for Bruce to move to another organization. This one sure seems like it was trying to get rid of him, perhaps for little return. I think I’d feel a little let down if I were him.

    • StillRed

      They are in bigger trouble. I think the merits of extending Bruce really depends on what you can get in return. I wouldn’t trade him unless we get something of a known quantity.

  7. WVRedlegs

    I heard Jay Bruce on TV after the game a couple of nights ago. When Pic asked him about the trade talk earlier in the year, still being interested in staying a Red, and the year he is having, Bruce seemed rather resigned to the fact that he’ll be traded this year. It wasn’t said per se, but you could tell in his voice and the wording of the answers that he didn’t think he would be a Red for life anymore. That was disappointing. Even if the 3 year extension took up the option year and made it one less year in total that would be a good offer too.
    The WhiteSox are reported to be early shoppers and have been rumored to be very interested in Bruce. The Reds and WhiteSox couldn’t match up in the Frazier trade and the Reds had to bring in the Dodgers to make it happen. I’d be curious to see what the WhiteSox would be offering for Bruce. The WhiteSox have an OF prospect by the name of Jacob May, the 24 year old grand son of one Lee May. He has wheels, not Lee’s size. They also have an under the radar 2B prospect in Jake Peter that is pretty good.

    • reaganspad

      I am frustrated that this was not talked about during the off season when a 3 year deal could have been had on the cheap. We have been talking about diminished returns for him for the last 8 months. What a great time to find value and sign him.

      the Reds are afraid of a guy who provides great value for his cost. Yes, he has been streaky, but he does not come with the cost of Stanton either while often producing like him.

      Even if you did sign him, that does not mean you could not trade him before he got 5/10. The value of the contract is the value of the contract.

      So he fills RF until one of our younger kids beats him out for a spot, then you trade him if need be.

      Folks, we are talking about a team that has not had a left fielder for 10 years and plays a CF who hits 220.

      And Mike Trout is not on his way here.

      Yes I am biased, because I see Jay having a 40 HR season soon. I admit that. But regardless of what is down on the farm.

      There was a day that you would make sure that that your replacement player could be better than the starter.

      Sorry Tony Perez

  8. Alex

    This would not have been written if Bruce was hitting .210 right now. Deal him to the highest bidder.

    • IndyRedMan

      And replace him with what? Winker has fewer xtra basehits than Peraza at Lville and the knock on Peraza is that he has no power. Jay has made some strides this year offensively and I’m sure they want to compete in 2018! They’re not going to get anyone better and he’s pretty affordable. Plus he’s not even 30 til the season starts next year!

      • Yippee

        That’s all based on a dream and hope that they will be competitive some time this decade….it doesn’t matter who the Reds replace him with, this is a 100+ loss team with or without him. If this is a true rebuild, trade him now, everything not nailed down must go. His value isn’t going to get much higher than it is now. As a matter of fact there’s a good chance he slumps as the season goes along and value decreases from this point.

        Thanks Jay for all you’ve done, by all accounts you seem to be a great human being along with being a good ball player, we wish you well in all your future endeavors.

  9. TR

    I’ve always liked Jay Bruce and have felt over the years that as Jay goes, so goes the Reds. But in this season of rebuild, it’s time for Bruce to be traded to a competitive team by the end of July for offensive help. Although, the Reds have some options for right field in Y-Rod, Erwin, and Holt.

  10. jessecuster44

    Extend him. Have you seen who the Reds have gotten back in trades recently?

      • gaffer

        What we could get in trade in almost meaningless. NOT PAYING Bruce is the most valuable thing. You will have to pay Bailey 20 million, and Votto 25 million a year and will need money to sign the above mentioned players.

      • jessecuster44

        Cotham. Peraza. You are supporting my point.

      • greenmtred

        Don’ omit the other guys, Jesse. And it’s really too soon to know about Peraza and Cotham.

      • jessecuster44

        Peraza and Cotham are the two major pieces acquired in the offseason for the Reds’ two top players. So far, underwhelming. Even the Cueto trade looks a bit iffy now. I just don’t think Walt has the chops for a rebuild. He’s never done it before. I’d rather extend Bruce and get his known offense than trade him (for peanuts) than take a flyer on Ervin, Rodriguez, Waldrop, Schebler, etc.

  11. Matt WI

    Could we ask Theo Epstein to execute the trade for a percentage minor leaguer cut?

  12. Patrick Jeter

    Depending on how much weight is put in the defensive metrics in relation to overall WAR, Bruce has not been a good defender for many years. Right now, he’s currently on pace to be the worst defensive outfielder in MLB and have his worst defensive seasons by a wide, wide margin.

    If Bruce is a 115-120 wRC+ guy going forward (which is optimistic), but now can’t even play average defense in RF, he’s really got a ceiling of more like 1.0-1.5 WAR per year.

    I’d extend him but not for more than 3/29, and that’s assuming a decent trade can’t be worked out.

    • BigRedMike

      Bruce has negative WAR, driven by his defense, which can vary. It does seem to be consistent from year to year though, Bruce is not a good defender at this point

      The oldest RF in the Top 10 of WAR at RF is Cruz, who is primarily a DH

      His HR/FB ratio is well above his career norm at this point 21.6% to 16.5%

      In addition, the contact rate is above career average 79.7% to 74.0%

      His high contact rate, HR/FB ratio, and low walk rate might indicate a drop in production.

      Hard to see extending a player with a combined negative WAR over the past 3 seasons at age 30

  13. David

    Odds are he is not going to age well at all when you look at his plate discipline and defensive metrics. I love Jay, but no way on an extension. I think the opportunity cost of any dollars going towards him will be too great.

    • gaffer

      Definitively. Using “paying for WAR on the open market” is a bad standard because the Reds are not competing on free agent pricing with the Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs (so odd to say). If we are going to win, we need to pay UNDER market value. Bruce can too easily be pitched to by good pitchers. Heck, he could not help us in the post-season when he was young and productive (which he is not anymore) so why would he help us win in 2 years?

      • IndyRedMan

        I thought that too but I looked it up last year and Jay’s OPS is over .800 in the playoffs

      • IndyRedMan

        .877 to be exact with only 4 Ks/4 walks in 31 atbats

      • lwblogger2

        Yes, very, very small sample but he’s been good in the postseason. I really, really thought he was going to hit a HR in that deciding game against the Giants. He had a great AB and didn’t miss by much.

  14. Scott Carter

    I don’t think I would be against it. I have always liked Bruce. He has a good attitude works hard and should be a good clubhouse presence as younger guys come up. (Although I admit I’m not in the clubhouse so that is just a guess. The 5/10 thing worries me some still but if the contract is not bad I don’t believe Bruce would pull a Brandon Phillips if it came down to that. I think he will be a guy with good power through those years although I would never expect a high average from him. And as I have said before, I don’t really understand all the advanced metrics but he seems to hit ball hard and his line drive production seems to be up. The defense is a concern as he has slowed quite a bit over the last few seasons, and I don’t know how Winkler rates defensively but is there the possibility of putting Bruce in Left and putting Winkler in right?

  15. wdwrolen2713

    Don’t worry, we’ve got Steve Selsky now. We don’t need Bruce.

    I’m not opposed to an extension, especially if the price is right. But it is almost more a feeling that I dread to see what the Reds would receive for Bruce in a trade. I just don’t really trust our management enough. Until teams start knocking Jocketty and William’s door down wanting Bruce, I just don’t see it. Bruce is probably as good a hitter we’ll have until maybe Ervin and he could be in center if Billy doesn’t work out. Overall, I just don’t want to see the Reds hold a giveaway sale of Bruce, especially when he is just getting back in the groove of things. If the Reds are sold that we have a solid to good outfield coming along (Winker, Ervin, etc.) and get the proper value out of Bruce in a trade however, I guess I will follow in careful enthusiasm.

  16. IndyRedMan

    Jay Bruce is still a decent OF with an above average arm….don’t care about def metrics? They might be based around some of his troubles with balls rolling around in the corner but other teams don’t have bullpens where the only respite from the boredom of walks are rockets off or over the wall! How bout Matt Holiday? He moved like a softball player with a beer in one hand in that game where the Reds hit 9 doubles! I’m sure he’s better defensively than Jay too? I just don’t see the Reds replacing him adequately in a trade?

  17. Patrick Jeter

    If you don’t care about defensive metrics, how about a very simple measure? How many balls were in his zone, and how many plays did he make? That’s basically called “zone rate.”

    Here are his zone rates since 2010:

    2010: 94.2%
    2011: 91.3%
    2012: 90.8%
    2013: 96.8%
    2014: 93.5%
    2015: 89.6%
    2016: 86.8%

    His 2015 rate was his worst, and his 2016 rate is on pace to be his worst by far. He’s declining in the field, I think. By any measure, including the eye test.

    • IndyRedMan

      He might need to drop 10 lbs then? I guess my point is that a lot of teams put sketchy fielders in their lineup for their bat and there is no way possible that’s he’s the worst outfielder? His arm alone has some defensive value as far as slower guys going to 3rd etc.

      • BigRedMike

        The defensive metric generally gives a positive for Bruce for his arm. It is a negative so far in 2016.

        His range and zone ranking are deteriorating

    • IndyRedMan

      Also are you taking the pitching staffs into consideration? Oh or Siegrist with the Cards are 100x better than our scrubs for example….so a batted ball off one of their pitches will on average be slower and easier to field than the normal rocket off of someone like Melville, Cotham, Simon, and on and on and on! Is that Jay’s fault? Our pitching is far worse this year than last and the same was true in 2015

    • Steve Mancuso

      I wonder how much of the drop off on this metric is due to playing next to Billy Hamilton. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Bruce’s best zone rate was the year he was playing next to the relatively slow Shin-Soo Choo. I’ve seen many plays that Hamilton makes in the gap that Bruce could have also made. Look at how the numbers for Bruce vary based on his CF.

      • BigRedMike

        Reading the UZR Primer, it appears that it attempts to take into account a good CF in regards to the LF and RF. If a CF makes a play in the gap, the LF and RF are not penalized.

      • Steve Mancuso

        It’s good they are thinking about it. But how do they account for plays that the RF in fact could make but doesn’t because he defers to the CF. Even if they exclude all the plays that the CF catches, it still hurts the corner OF’s chance to prove he has great range. The numbers Patrick posted make such a clear case for that. Bruce’s range *increased* by a lot the year he played with Choo then dropped below career average when Hamilton appears.

      • BigRedMike

        There are a couple of paragraphs in the Fangraphs UZR Primer that talks about it. I am not sure I am smart enough to explain it. It appears that a RF has a certain % of times they will make a catch in a certain zone, if they do not make the catch, there is no penalty, but, they get rewarded if there is a catch.

      • MrRed

        Steve, you’re asking the questions that first came to mind for me too. This is a largely subjective matter. But, you have arguably a CF with the best range in a generation out there and Bruce is smart to realize it. JMHO but I think he is backing off in deference.

    • lwblogger2

      Not a proponent of defensive metrics, particularly in a small sample size. The Zone Rate is about as good as they come. I also don’t dislike Inside Edge Fielding as much as some of the others. One odd thing I’ve noticed with the Inside Edge data is so far Jay has had almost no “Even” or “Likely” chances. Only 1 in each category (14 and 24 respectively over 2014-2015) and he missed them. His conversion rate on “Routine” balls is as low as it’s been since the stats were available in 2012. It’s sitting at 98.2% where his average since 2012 has been 99.1%. He’s made good on both is “Unlikely” chances but still those two chances are a low number as he’s had 24 such chances over 2014-2015. As I said before, I think looking at the defensive metrics 1/4 way into the season has to be taken with a giant grain of salt. The variation even from season-to-season on the defensive metrics suggest to me that even a season’s worth of data may not be enough.

  18. seat101

    It is so nice to see a healthy discussion here. With so many people contributing. It seems people have drifted away from the site. Well that sure came back for this one!

  19. WVRedlegs

    As expected, Adelman goes to the DL. OF Steve Selsky is brought up. That’ll make the Old Cossack happy. And Drew Hayes was DFA’d. He’ll be safe making it through waivers. I hope we get to see some of Selsky.

    • Big56dog

      Selsky will get a ear chewing from BP and Reds brass for all the pitches he takes, hopefully he stays strong to his minor league numbers as one of the few that finds a way to get on base

  20. Moses

    Did anyone else find today’s promotion of Selsky curious? This is a team that DL’d a pitcher, doesn’t have a bunch of 40 man spots, and has had its bullpen pretty much wiped out over a four day stretch. Not only do I think that Bruce is getting traded, I think he might be traded today. The ChiSox GM was reported to have said something about being very close on a deal and I think it could be for Bruce with at least one MLB-ready pitcher coming back the other way. Otherwise, why Selsky? But knowing the Reds, they’ll just shift Yorman to the 60 day and call it a day, let DeJesus throw an inning or two at the end of a blow-out loss.

  21. Jeremy Conley

    I love Jay Bruce, and as a fan I wouldn’t complain about the contract Steve lays out, it will probably be pretty fair based on market values. That said, it just all comes down to the opportunity cost to me.

    If Bruce continues to put up above an 850 OPS, and has more than 15 homers at the break, someone out there is willing to pay for his production RIGHT NOW. The Reds don’t need that production right now, because they are terrible.

    So then the Reds could get a couple of prospects that may add WAR to the 2018-2020 Reds, and they’d still have the $43 million to spend on a different player in the free agent market so they’d get those WAR too.

    The Reds are still at the point where they have to trade the present for the future. The only way that extending Bruce makes sense is if he took a contract that was significantly below market value, and there’s no reason for him to do that.

    It’s sad that the Reds’ front office mismanaged their winning window so badly that it slammed shut so fast. I had hoped that Bruce would retire a Red after a long career of going to the post-season regularly. At this point though, it just makes more sense to get the prospects we can for him, and try to rebuild.

    • IndyRedMan

      I know where I’ll be going if that’s the case! Here in Indy we get pretty much every White Sox and Cubs game along with the Reds. You can put it on the board….YESSS

      • Jeremy Conley

        If what’s the case? Are you saying that you’d stop rooting for the Reds if they trade Jay Bruce? That seems severe.

        Also, I absolutely I can’t stand Hawk Harrelson.

      • IndyRedMan

        Cmon man…I’ll always obsess over the Reds but there is nothing to watch as it stands right now. Unless you’re into Hostel or Saw….basically have a torture fetish

      • IndyRedMan

        Hawk Harrelson….people either seem to love him or hate him but I’ll take him and Steve Stone any day over George Grande trying to make a turd smell like a lollipop

  22. Chuck Schick

    If Bruce feels he’s turned the corner I doubt that he would agree to a discounted extension. If the Reds harbor doubts about his long term viability then offering an extension makes no sense. They have him through 2017……let it play out and see if he can actually play. Doing anything now erodes flexibility and leverage for both parties and it’s not going to happen.

  23. Scotlykins

    I like Bruce but he doesn’t fit into our rebuild.

    • IndyRedMan

      Does your rebuild include a 37 year old Votto? I thought the plan was 2018 and Jay will have just turned 31 at seasons start.

      • Jeremy Conley

        The Reds already have Votto under a contract that runs through the Reds next competitive window. As you saw with the last good Reds team, it usually takes more than one try. It’s not a play for one year, it’s a play for a window, and to try to keep that window open for as long as possible.

        If the Reds could trade Votto today and get good value for him, I would say they should do it. But because his contract is so large, it is unlikely that they would be able to trade him for substantial prospects. It would free up money for the future, but you don’t know who you will get for that money, or how much that money will get you at the time.

        Trading Bruce makes sense because he’s productive right now and under a small contract relative to Votto’s so some other team will likely give the Reds at least one good prospect.

  24. Eric The Red

    Yes, sign him. Bats like his don’t grow on trees. We have–maybe–one decent bat in the minor leagues, and even his power is suspect. We should have decent pitching within 2 seasons, and if we let Bruce go we’ll be saying “if only we had another bat.” Remember how much fun it was watching our playoff hopes go up in smoke because we lacked a left fielder.

    • lwblogger2

      Cool Steve. I’ll try to listen here.

  25. big5ed

    I don’t mind signing Bruce. Left unsaid here is that the Reds could sign him and still trade him anytime before his 10/5 rights kick in (about May 2018), if the situation calls for it. His contract may be even more valuable in early 2018, so I don’t know how much risk there really would be in re-signing him.

    I believe that the young pitching is very good and very deep, and that the window may open up sooner that others think, as it did for the Mets last year. If so, and if they let Bruce go, then they won’t have the lumber to compete. Duvall is only 19 months younger than Bruce, and it clearly remains to be seen whether he can sustain it.

    It should would be nice to get Phillips off the dock. Maybe the bad bullpen is just a ploy to get Phillips to agree to a trade with no extension.

    • reaganspad


      I said that same thing above. Sign value anytime you can. trade pieces as they make sense. I do not care if it is Joey or Homer or Jay

      Bruce should have been extended this offseason

      What is silly, is that every time someone has a bad season, the calls come to trade that person. I do not like selling low

      Of course with our front office, it is a crapshoot base on returns for sell highs, some have been good (Cueto) some have not made much sense in Chapman and Frazier

      • docmike


        It cracks me up all the time that people are always screaming to trade away all our bad players, but they never want to trade the good ones. As though buying high and selling low is a good strategy.

        This past winter would have been the absolute worst time to trade Bruce. The Reds did the right thing by not doing it.

  26. jimmaloney46

    Buy low, sell high, right? So sell him, it’s a bull market. Pocket the money, put it away for a rainy day 2-3 years (hopefully) from now, or whatever year a good free agent OF is needed. The intriguing factor about keeping him is that it really looks like he’s finally figured out how to hit the ball inside out. He’s having a bit of success going to the left side and beating the shift. Still a work in progress, though. He should have disciplined himself to do this years ago. I’ve always said this is what’s always stood between him as an average to below average hitter vs a great hitter. If he continues to improve on going the opposite way, he could do .280 or better, and be the great player we all expected. Shame it tooks so long for the light bulb to go off, but I’m guessing that he saw his dismal trade value over the winter and realized he needed to change.

    Signing him again would probably be a huge mistake. Need more time to certify whether his changes are for real or not. Might be that now is the highest value he’ll ever have. I personally would trade him in a heartbeat, as long as the deal was decent in return. No more long contracts, maybe ever. They’ve been disasters.

    • Phil Gasson

      You can’t be talking about jr., Votto and Bailey?

  27. james garrett

    Always been a fan but is he part of the future?Its all about where this organization wants to spend their money based on how much they have.Biggest question I think maybe is what is the cost and will he still be at or above average when we become releveant again.The strength of this team will be on the mound if and when all of these guys get healthy.It may be better just to play it out and see what we are offered.It is no secret he is as streaky as they come and I thought last year he finally got it but then he fell off the cliff.

  28. old-school

    Bruce is likeable and his homers and defense are to be commended. I have never been able to defend or reconcile his penchant for the prolonged slump. Let’s see if this is a bounce back year or a June Swoon is coming. On a separate note, big news from MLB today on changing the strike zone and raising the low strike, a reaction to speed the pace of play since 30% of all at-bats result in no action- a K or BB. This “intervention” could have a big effect. Not so fast on trading those young pitchers who throw strikes and make hitters swing and miss. A narrower strike zone might make established power hitters like Bruce more valuable, especially in GABP. Winker/Ervin/Bruce in 2018 might be ok.

  29. Irishmike

    Never liked Bruce. His streaky bat and lack of plate discipline have always caused me to be jaded. In addition, I do not see him a Golden Glover any more. He looks kinda beefy and is a step off now in anticipation and speed in the outfield. This is not your “old 30” Frank Robinson. This is your “missed the opportunity to dump Frazier while he’s hot” scenario. I would shop him hard. My lonely concern is that our front office will get short-changed again in such a trade. Jockety needs to see the baseball equivalent of a vascular surgeon. He is obviously suffering from an increasingly recognized malady known as ” Hardening of the Categories”!

  30. cfd3000

    Sign him. That gives the Reds more options. Keep him with well defined, affordable cost, or trade him (before 10/5) with a relatively attractive contract. How many times have we heard that teams trade contracts as much as players? The Reds need more options, not fewer, and an extension also buys time to make a sound decision to trade or not.

  31. streamer88

    I say extend him. Keeping him around is about investment diversification. Prospects are risky investments, with either large returns or catastrophic consequences (Mike Trout vs Corey Patterson). Any team who won with youth had 2-3 aging veterans (think Marlins teams, Royals recently) to ‘diversify’ the risk of all that youth. Bruce may only generate 4-5 WAR over the next 3 years, but barring a knee or shoulder injury, that WAR is much more stable than what Yorman, Duvall or Pacheco is sure to bring. If we had two Winkers and a Bryce Harper in AAA, I’d say trade him. But short of holding 3 winning lottery tickets, we need our WAR portfolio to be diversified. I’m buying Jay Bruce bonds!

  32. pinson343

    Nice article. Extending Bruce should at least be seriously considered, if he’s willing to accept a reasonable 3 year extension. If the young pitchers develop within the next 2 years the Reds will need some offense. I hate to think of this offense without him.

    He will go into one of his slumps of course (maybe already has) but I think he can maintain his career numbers. His playing all of 2014 hurt was a huge mistake (Price admitted that) and I believe he’s just regaining form now.

  33. Steve Schoenbaechler

    The only reason why I don’t think we were able to trade Homer, BP, or Bruce before was because we were asking for too much. I mean, just look at what we got for Cueto. I would have to consider taking that if we had Cueto under a contract or not. And, on the other side, I don’t think I would have given that up.

    As for Bruce now, now that he has finally tweeked his swing, to his benefit I believe, I could understand it. But, for how much? I could see $10+, but not much more than that. That with what we are suppose to be having coming up in the OF.

    Part of it also is going to be what focus are we going to take on the “rebuilding”. If we consider rebuilding like the Cubs and Astros, then the book calls for yes, definitely trade him. But, then, remember, the Astros went, what, 3 straight seasons with 100+ losses before seeing the benefits of their rebuilding at the major league level.

    I could understand either way. So, the answer is simply going to lie with the FO. Either way, I am still going to watch the Reds. If we trade Bruce off, my attention is going to be given more to the minor leaguer development; that’s all.

    Whether we keep him or not, I still favor trying to put a competitive team out on the field. I’m not talking a championship caliber team. I’m talking about one that could play 500 ball, maybe better with some breaks, maybe worse without the breaks.

    Also, whether we trade him or extend him, Bruce isn’t the problem nor the solution with this team. It’s the pitching, especially the bullpen. With or without Bruce, this team isn’t going to win without better pitching. Extending Bruce is not a main priority right now.

    • lwblogger2

      I don’t think we can consider the Astros model a success. I mean, they had a very good 2015 but they are back to being a poor team here in 2016. They are 17-28 and 3-7 over their last 10. To me, that means the Astros’ rebuilding model is out. The tear down and tank has worked for the Cubs but who else so far?

      This may be an article idea for one of the many talented writers here. I wish I had time to tackle it.

      • ohiojimw

        To me it never makes sense to go backwards unless money or end of player control dictates such a path. Things are too chaotic in both a positive and negative sense not to try and always be positioned to make a run if luck falls a team’s way.

        If one listens to what the show runners for the Cubs say, they did what they did only because things had gotten so bad for so long. Their intent for the future is to try to stay positioned for every season and not to put together a window of opportunity only to then blow it up and start all over again.

  34. thenaturalmevs

    WAR is an easy way to basically de-value players and prospects are lotto tickets. No one or any aggregate combination we get back for Bruce will equal his past or future production. I say that with certainty. There are enough fans out there who spend the money to go see him play, he’s popular in the fan base. Again; can’t put a WAR value on that. Of course he’ll be traded. We are a poor organization and we will surely not make the right move on this.

  35. Michael E

    Everyone knows my feelings. I was a big Bruce fan when he still had “potential” to go with solid early seasons, but now, he is just an average hitter and only gets there based on hitting 30 HRs. If he only hits 20 or 25, he’s below average. He started off great this year, but after the first two weeks, he’s back to old Jay, a great .200 hitter that is nothing special defensively.

    I know contracts have gone up, up, up, so now $10 million per isn’t supposedly eye-popping, just par-for-the-course, but in no way, shape or form is Bruce worth such a contract as Steve noted. Maybe some other team has paid a worse player more at same age, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow suit.

    Yes, we could have WORST RF (at a fraction of the cost), but it’s not like Bruce is some stud we might get on the cheap. He is a Joe Average already at his prime. He has no upside left and I don’t see why we’d have to overpay for many cons and maybe one pro (RF could get worse).

    No thanks. The trades lately have been terrible, just terrible. If the mental handicaps in the front office would simply cast a wide net for high ceiling talent instead of “mlb ready” journeymen, we’d already be excited about the coming seasons. Even so, I’d rather trade him, even for the crap the GMs want to pawn off as “mlb ready”, than EXTEND one of the many problems (he ain’t a solution) that are low average, high K rate hitters.

  36. Michael E

    It’s just sad we’ve “settled” for mediocre hitters as ones we consider extending and then putting in clean up spot. If this is where we spend our money, then outside of suddenly studly pitching (if they progress and get healthy…right now it’s BAD), we aren’t going to sniff a championship “settling” for paying mediocre hitters well and rolling them out there to K, ground out, pop out or fly out 3 out of every 4 plate appearances.