UPDATE: Last night around midnight it was reported that the deal fell apart. The initial report was that there was an issue with Saunders medicals and specifically his recently injured knee. This made a lot of sense given his history but this morning Ken Rosenthal reported that the medical issue was with a minor leaguer from the Blue Jays who was assumed to be going to the Reds. This is an interesting development as it was the first time that any additional players from the Blue Jays were mentioned. It is believed the deal is now off the table.
According to multiple reports the Blue Jays, Angels and Reds appear to be finalizing a 3 team deal. The Reds will send Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays, the Blue Jays will send Michael Saunders to the Angles and the Reds will receive a package of prospects. Cash could also be exchanged in the deal.
The Reds have been shopping Bruce for some time now as they are in full rebuild. Bruce is set to make $12.5MM in 2015 and has a $13MM option with a $1MM buyout in 2016. For the Reds Bruce is an expensive player they no longer need. Bruce has not performed well over his last two campaigns, well off his former all-star performances. Metrics have not been kind to him at the plate or on the field with negative values over his past 2 season. The Blue Jays would be betting on a return of the former Bruce and not the later. With Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey both on the roster, there was not an obvious fit for Bruce, so moving Saunders does make room even if it’s not a predictable upgrade.
The Angels get a wild card in Saunders. The often injured Saunders lost his 2015 season due to injury and looks to have a bounce back year in 2016. He comes with a manageable $2.9MM salary but as mentioned his injury history is a risk. Still at his price point he offers large potential as he showed in 2012-2014 that when on the field he provided good value. Of course Saunders has struggled to consistently stay on the field. The Angles do get an exciting player but he comes with the mentioned poor injury history.
The package to the Reds is still not know and it has been assumed they will be covering some of Bruce’s salary. Of course there could be additional players in the deal to balance money or help cover the costs. It is hard to imagine the Blue Jays adding nearly $10 million of payroll as they have suggested they do not have much flexibility this off-season.
With the Blue Jays apparent lack of budget room, I do suspect there could be other moving pieces in the coming days. Neither the Blue Jays or the Angles have deep farm systems so it will be interesting to see how the pieces fall. Of course with Bruce’s recent performance he should not command a big haul. More to come…