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Reds: To trade or not to trade Jay Bruce

With no apologies to Mr. William Shakespeare, “To trade or not to trade, that is the question swarming around the Cincinnati Reds as the deadline creeps ever closer.”

Before the Reds left on their current west coast trip, I had a long talk with Jay Bruce. At the end he stuck out his hand and said, “If I’m not with the Reds when we get back from this trip, I just want to thank you for all you’ve written about me and how good you have been to me.”

It should have been me thanking him. There is no better person on and off the field than Jay Bruce, a true professional who speaks the truth without resorting to the clichés most ballplayers use over and over and over.

AND BRUCE EXPRESSED his desire to remain with the Reds, “The only team I have ever known. And I’d like to stick around and help these young players develop and experience what I’ve experienced on a winning team that makes the playoffs.”

If that’s true, and it is, then Bruce should dial it down a bit. What he is currently doing isn’t something that will keep him with the Reds. He has hit six home runs in his last five games. He is leading the National League in RBI and his 25 home runs are two behind league leader Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies.

Those are numbers that should make contending teams mouths water.

The hot rumor was that Bruce was at the top of the list of the San Francisco Giants, a team looking for left handed power. Bruce hit four home runs in three games against the Giants and was instrumental in beating them twice.

If ever that was a positive audition, that certainly was one. But so far there hasn’t been a match. The Giants don’t have the prospects the Reds want, or if they do they aren’t willing to cough them up.

FOR SOME STRANGE reason the Cleveland Indians say they aren’t interested, although the Tribe needs some hitting if they want to maintain their grip on first place in the American League Central. Toronto was a possibility, but the Blue Jays obtained outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the San Diego Padres this week.

So the market is shrinking.

And other Reds?

THERE WERE RUMORS not long ago about shortstop Zack Cozart. But those have died to not even a whisper recently. Cozart probably isn’t going anywhere at this deadline.

There also was a rumor about pitcher Anthony DeSclafani going to the Texas Rangers?

Say what?

Why in the name of Cy Young would the Reds even consider trading DeSclafani. He is all about what the Reds are doing now in their rebuilding mode. He is only 25 and is showing he is a top of the rotation pitcher, current 6-and-0. He is a major part of the rebuild. He is just what the Reds want — they have control of him for four more years at a very inexpensive price.

Then there are the Adam Duvall rumors. Same story. Why would the Reds even consider trading him.

They have searched and searched and searched for a left fielder. Finally, they’ve found one, one that not only hits but also plays good defense, even though he is a third baseman by trade. It is the same as with DeSclafani. Duvall can’t become a free agent until 2022 and he, too, is an inexpensive piece that is clearly a part of the rebuild.

One so-called fan even suggested that the Reds should trade Joey Votto so they could put Devin Mesoraco at first base. I told him he should get back on his medication immediately.

THUS IT COMES DOWN to Jay Bruce. Could the Reds keep him? Of course they could. He is making $12.5 million this year and the team has a $13 million option for 2017. That’s a bargain these days.

But keeping him would go against what the Reds are doing during their Reconstruction Act. Keeping him would block younger players the Reds need to see for the future, an outfielder like Jesse Winker.

There are four days left before the non-waivers trade deadline. When the Reds come back from San Diego Sunday night, it will be known whether Bruce’s locker in Great American Ball Park will be empty.

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