In context of the 2016 season, the Jay Bruce for Michael Saunders and minor leaguers deal may go down as one of the greatest trades that was never made.
Michael Saunders has been a revelation for the Blue Jays this season, and Jay Bruce continues to put up decent numbers for the Cincinnati Reds. While the Blue Jays have no interest in dealing Saunders now, they may still have interest in Bruce.
In Jon Heyman’s latest at Today’s Knuckleball, he goes over his team-by-team trade deadline predictions. He says the Blue Jays could be the most likely landing spot for Jay Bruce:
The Blue Jays may still consider left-handed power. And while they probably wouldn’t repeat Michael Saunders for Jay Bruce, they may still be the team most likely for Bruce … Though, Toronto people suggest their most likely move is to upgrade the bullpen further, which has been an overall disappointment.
While left-handed power is on virtually any team’s wish list, I really wonder how much of a priority it is for the Toronto Blue Jays right now. The bullpen is the clear and obvious need, and then perhaps the starting rotation. After that, going after a left-handed outfielder like Jay Bruce makes sense.
Considering Bruce’s salary for the 2016 season ($12.5 million), in addition to his $13 million dollar club option for 2017, the acquisition cost for Bruce should be fairly low. The Jays may only be required to eat the remainder of the salary and throw in a prospect of two for Jay Bruce’s services.
And while the immediate need for Bruce may not seem to be there for the Blue Jays, the fact remains that they’re still without the services of Jose Bautista; with no set timetable for his return. An additional right fielder – and a left-handed power bat at that – could only improve the Blue Jays’ chances right now.
Bruce would also provide a bit of an insurance policy for next year as well, in case one or both of Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders leave as free agents at season’s end. Not only would Jay Bruce help the Blue Jays in 2016, he could occupy a starting outfielder’s spot in 2017 as well.