With the 2016 MLB trade deadline just hours away, rumors continue to swirl regarding some of the top names in baseball. While many players involved in speculation will stay put, there seems to be a strong possibility that Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce and Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale could both be dealt.
For Bruce, the biggest question seems to be to what team, not if, he’ll be traded. Sale’s immediate future appears to be a little more uncertain, though, several teams are making a push to acquire the left-hander.
Bruce has been one of the few bright spots on a last-place team. The Reds are 21 games out of first place in the NL Central with a 42-62 record at Monday’s deadline, and they are 5.5 games behind the fourth-place Milwaukee Brewers. Bruce has 25 home runs in 97 games, which is good enough for fourth in the NL, and he ranks sixth in the league with a .559 slugging percentage. He has a team option for $13 million next season.
Multiple teams have been linked to Bruce. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have one of MLB’s worst outfields, are making a play for the 29-year-old. Other NL teams in the playoff picture are in the mix, as well, even though Bruce might be best suited for the AL because of his poor defense. The New York Mets are reportedly the favorites to land Bruce as they sit four games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Sources: Mets favorites in Jay Bruce sweepstakes. Rangers and Giants remain in. Barring a blowaway offer, this could stretch to afternoon.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 1, 2016
If the Dodgers don’t land Bruce, they could use some of their highly touted prospects to acquire Sale. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the White Sox and Dodgers have discussed Julio Urias and Jose DeLeon, who are Los Angeles’ two best pitching prospects.
It's unclear if L.A. would be willing to part with potential stars in order to acquire Sale, who could once again give them the best one-two punch of any rotation. The left-hander has a 3.17 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 139 innings, striking out 133 batters in 2016. He’s never posted an ERA higher than 3.41 since making his MLB debut in 2010.
The Dodgers don’t know when ace Clayton Kershaw will return from his back injury, but the team hasn’t lost a step since the three-time Cy Young winner got injured. L.A. has an NL-best 18-10 record since Kershaw went on the disabled list.
The Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox appear to be the Dodgers’ biggest competition in the Sale Sweepstakes. But Chicago might be hesitant to give up Sale, even though they seem to be out of the playoff race with a 51-54 record. Sale is just 27 years old and signed to a very team-friendly contract, making $39.5 million over the next three years. Chicago has also talked to the Rangers about trading Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.89 ERA, 125 strikeouts), but it doesn’t look like he’ll be moved.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a similar position as the White Sox. They won’t make a postseason run in 2016, and they have a few starting pitchers that interest contending teams. The San Francisco Giants have inquired about Matt Moore, who is 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Chris Archer has pitched poorly (5-14, 4.42 ERA, 155 strikeouts) after finishing fifth in Cy Young voting last year, but the Dodgers have shown interest in acquiring him.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy remains on the trade block after he rejected a deal to the Cleveland Indians. Rays first baseman Steve Pearce could also be traded.