Heyman mentions that the defending AL Champion Indians are “looking at a few different areas” as they look to separate themselves from the pack in the AL Central. As play began on Thursday night, Cleveland was just a half-game ahead of the Twins and two games in front of the Royals for the division lead, so it makes sense for them to aggressively pursue upgrades ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Cleveland is one of the few potential playoff teems in need of outfield help, as Brandon Guyer has a concerning .556 OPS this season, Bradley Zimmer has been rather mediocre during his first major-league campaign, Lonnie Chisenhall is likely out until August with a calf injury, and Michael Brantley is a perennial injury risk despite his great 2017 season. They’re set to get an internal boost soon as Austin Jackson returns from a quad strain, but he’s already been on the disabled list twice this season, and like Brantley, he’s somewhat unreliable due to his health.
If Bruce were to be dealt to Cleveland, the move would represent a return to the state where he’s spent the majority of his professional career. The 30-year-old right fielder debuted with the Reds back in 2008 and remained in Cincinnati until being dealt to the Mets at the deadline last year.
Maybe it’s because most of the contenders this year don’t really have major position player needs, but Bruce hasn’t received much buzz as a trade candidate this summer. Despite that, it makes a lot of sense for New York to try to move him as they attempt to free up right field for Michael Conforto, and Bruce is having a very good season, hitting .266/.332/.529 with 24 homers in 383 plate appearances.
Bruce would provide Cleveland with an everyday presence in high field, and since he’s a free agent at the end of this season, the thrifty Indians wouldn’t need to worry about him holding them back financially in the future.
Bruce was frequently connected to the Indians during his last year in Cincinnati, with the rumors persisting from the offseason all the way until the time that he was dealt to New York and Cleveland instead acquired Guyer to shore up their outfield depth. With Cleveland again in search of outfield reinforcements and the Mets out of contention, perhaps the rumors will finally come true.