Cincinnati Reds trade of right fielder Jay Bruce is a bust

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

When the Cincinnati Reds traded Jay Bruce to the New York Mets, the deal looked perfect.

During the 2016 season, the Cincinnati Reds were in full rebuild mode.  As the trade deadline began to loom, the Reds moved slugging outfielder Jay Bruce.  At the time, the trade looked like exactly what the Reds needed, sort of.

The Reds traded Bruce, who had an option year and an affordable contract for his production, to the Mets for infielder Dilson Herrera and left-handed starting pitching prospect Max Wotell.  Herrera played for the Mets in part of both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  Wotell, however, had never made it past rookie ball.

The deal looked so good, because the Reds were a bit short on infield prospects.  The addition of Herrera as a the short term second baseman of the future looked perfect.  It also let the Reds finally move on from Brandon Phillips.

Wotell also looked like a good acquisition.  Scouts viewed him as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.  The Mets  drafted him out of high school in the third round.

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The only downside of the deal at the time was whether the Reds could have gotten more for Bruce.  If they had held onto him until the end of the season, more teams would have been in on Bruce.  The deal itself, though, seemed to be spot on at the time.

Since then, it is clear that the Cincinnati Reds got the wrong end of the deal.

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Immediately following the deal, Bruce wasn’t himself for the Mets.  His power numbers were comparable, but his OBP sank.  The Mets still picked up his 2017 option.

Last season, not only was Bruce back to his usual production, but he also brought back a return.  Bruce slugged 29 home runs with an OBP of .321 in 103 games for the Mets.  Then they flipped him for minor league reliever Ryder Ryan.

Meanwhile, Herrera hasn’t played a single game in Cincinnati.  His shoulder injury threatens to end his MLB career.

He is starting this season as the DH for Triple-A Louisville, after the Reds hoped that he would be the back-up infielder for the big league squad.

Wotell also has had a tough time with the Reds’ organization.  He has not pitched above Low-A.  He also owns a 6.22 career minor league ERA.

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The deal is a still a possible wash for the Reds.  Herrera or Wotell could end up being productive.  Right now, though, the Mets once again have Jay Bruce and a low leverage relief prospect for two players that haven’t done anything..