Jay Bruce open to multi-year deal from Reds

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Jay Bruce’s agent Matt Sosnick told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com earlier today that his client is open to signing a multi-year contract extension with the Reds. The talented young outfielder is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, as he qualifies as a “Super Two.”

“If Jay can get compensated fairly over his arbitration years and into his free agency years, we’re open to it,” Sosnick said. “If it makes financial sense, we’ll look at it. There is no hesitation on Jay’s part to stay in Cincinnati for as long as possible. He loves it there.”

Bruce, who doesn’t even turn 24 until next April, batted .281/.353/.493 with 25 homers, 70 RBI and an 846 OPS in 509 at-bats with the Reds this past season. He went on a ridiculous tear to close out the regular season, slugging 14 home runs over his final 107 plate appearances, including a division-clinching walk off shot against the Astros on September 14. If that isn’t enough, Ultimate Zone Rating (or UZR) ranked Bruce as the best defensive right fielder in all of baseball for 2010.

It appears that Bruce is finally getting comfortable against left-handed pitching, something he struggled with in his first two seasons in the big leagues. If he can sustain this sort of success over the long haul, the Reds may have one of the most complete players in baseball on their hands. It would be wise to at least secure him through his arbitration years and his first year of free agency before he becomes an even bigger offensive force.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.