GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Outfielder Jay Bruce wasn’t surprised the Cincinnati Reds may have come close to trading him as part of a three-team deal that appears to have fallen through.
Bruce said Tuesday he followed reports he was headed to Toronto as part of the Reds’ rebuilding. Outfielder Michael Saunders would have gone to the Los Angeles Angels, with the Reds getting more prospects.
“Awkward is not the word,” Bruce said before Cincinnati’s first full-squad workout. “I’m reading the same stuff you are reading. It’s obvious what’s going on. They’re trying to get something done. I really don’t have answers.”
Bruce said nobody from the Reds had informed him of a deal in the works. Cincinnati has traded starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, third baseman Todd Frazier, left fielder Marlon Byrd and closer Aroldis Chapman since the middle of last season. Second baseman Brandon Phillips blocked two trade proposals.
Bruce is one of the few remaining high-priced veterans left to deal, so it’s no surprise that the Reds are exploring trade options. He gets $12.5 million in the final season of a six-year, $51 million deal, which includes a $13 million club option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout.
“My wife got here last night and hasn’t unpacked her bags yet,” Bruce said. “It could have happened that we were back on the move again. It’s a tough thing to juggle. It’s a very, very thin line to walk as an organization too.”
Manager Bryan Price liked the way Bruce reacted to the trade discussions.
“Our good fortune is we’ve got a real pro in Jay Bruce, who is handling this stuff unbelievably well,” Price said. “It’s challenging. The trading deadline is challenging. The offseason when his name keeps popping up and everything blows up last night, it doesn’t make things any easier. This generation is kind of getting conditioned to the fact that it is the lay of the land now.”
At the Blue Jays’ camp In Dunedin, Florida, Saunders met with general manager Ross Atkins and manager John Gibbons to discuss the reports.
“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, who missed all but nine games last season with a lingering left knee injury, participated in workouts Tuesday.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler wouldn’t confirm that a medical problem with one of the players in the proposed deal caused it to come apart.
“Just like anything else, there are discussions that go on all the time with clubs throughout the winter, leading into spring and then throughout the season as well,” Eppler said. “Sometimes things get close. I’ll use an analogy: Sometimes this advances a little bit farther down the field than others.”
Eppler declined to say whether the Angels were still interested in trying to make a reformulated deal for an outfielder.
“I’m looking for any reinforcement at any single position I can find,” he said. “That kind of (prompts) you to talk to your counterparts throughout the league to find out what they’re looking to do. That process has started already and it will get probably more ramped up as games get going and things present themselves in each individual camp.”