Johnny Cueto has always been considered one of the big prizes of the trade deadline this summer, but the Reds are still reluctant to trade him before the All-Star break, and possibly not even after.
Some around the Reds organization believe that it could be right-fielder, Jay Bruce, as the best bet to get traded, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Bruce, 28, rejected a pair of extension offers from the team last season. Catcher Devin Mesoraco, coming off surgery on his left hip, could end up in the outfield next season. So, if the Reds move Bruce (along with potential free agent Marlon Byrd), they might be short only one outfielder in 2016.
In today's market, Bruce's contract is relatively reasonable -- he is guaranteed $12 million this season and $12.5 million next season, with a $13 million club option for 2017.
Bruce had a .713 OPS in April, but improved that to .754 in May, .840 in June and .925 thus far in July. His contract gives him the right to reject trades to eight clubs.
Bruce is an attractive option for a team that is looking to compete this year, and they would be able to keep him for 2016, and possibly 2017. The market for outfielders isn't exactly defined yet. Justin Upton and Will Venable of the Padres appear to be available as well as other center and corner outfielders.
If he is as available as Rosenthal reports, Bruce would vault right to the top of the list with Justin Upton as the top tier of outfielders. The money attached to Bruce may turn some teams away, but others will take the risk knowing that they have him under control through 2017.