UPDATE 2/23: Medical concerns over one of the prospects (not Saunders) scuttled the 3-way trade , according to Ken Rosenthal. It is unclear if the sides will pick up talks in the next few days, or if the possibility of a Bruce-to-Toronto deal is completely dead.
The deal is off for now, but we now know a couple important facts: 1) We have a round-about idea of what the Reds want in return for Jay Bruce, and 2) we know the Blue Jays are looking for additional home run power for some reason, probably not related at all to the Jose Bautista-won't-negotiate thing from yesterday. HMMMM. -ed.
UPDATE 2/22: There is doubt that the deal will be completed, according to a report from ESPN's Buster Olney. It is unclear at this point what the holdup is, though medical concerns may be an issue.
ORIGINAL: The Blue Jays, Reds and Angels are discussing a 3-way trade that would send Jay Bruce to Toronto, Michael Saunders to Anaheim and minor leaguers to Cincinnati, as first reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network. According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, the deal is close to completion.
Bruce has been rumored to be on the trading block for months, with Cincinnati trading away Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman as part of its year-long rebuilding process.
Toronto pursued Bruce back at July's non-waiver trade deadline, with talks advancing far enough that the Jays asked Bruce about his willingness to waive his no-trade clause to come to Toronto before using their pool of top prospects to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere and Mark Lowe. Bruce took the Jays off his no-trade list following the season, facilitating more serious talks between the sides.
Bruce will likely be a starter for Toronto, alongside Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista with Chris Colabello and Dalton Pompey providing depth. Saunders was slated to be the team's starting left-fielder, though Bautista may take that role with Bruce potentially playing right field. Bruce is owed $13.5 million in guaranteed money for next season, with a team option for 2017.
Saunders would likely take over the starting left field spot for the Halos, alongside Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun. The Angels previously signed Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry to platoon in left, but appear to be making a more significant addition by pursuing Saunders.
Without knowing the final pieces of the deal, it appears that the pending trade is a strong one for both the Jays and Angels. Toronto receives an immediate upgrade that they have pursued for a long time in Bruce, and some added balance in a heavy right-handed heavy lineup. Bruce's power bat should play well in Rogers Centre amidst a strong lineup that already includes Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson.
The Halos have been criticized all winter for their lack of urgency in fixing their left field problem, as the additions of Nava and Gentry were simply embarrassing for a team with such deep pockets. Anaheim utilized Matt Joyce, Shane Victorino, David DeJesus and David Murphy as key outfield pieces down the stretch last season, so the addition of Saunders (who is familiar with AL West pitching after spending time with the Mariners) should quell some of the disappointment caused by the team's lackluster pursuits of high-end free-agents Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward.