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Report: Blue Jays could pursue Jay Bruce

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The Blue Jays are expected to pursue free agent Jay Bruce this offseason, according to a recent report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Toronto was unable to make a deadline deal for the slugger, but is reportedly still interested in his services after walking away from Jose Bautista this week. The Indians, Cafardo adds, might redirect their efforts to retain Carlos Santana rather than striking a new deal with their former outfielder.

Bruce, 30, experienced something of a breakthrough in 2017. He split his season between the Mets and Indians, batting a cumulative .254/.324/.508 with 2.7 fWAR and a career-best 36 home runs in 617 plate appearances. The Indians plucked him from the waiver wire in early August, sending minor league righty Ryder Ryan to the Mets as Bruce helped them through their 22-game win streak and a five-game run in the ALDS. He went 5-for-18 in the postseason, collecting two home runs, a double and four RBI before the team was edged out by the Yankees in Game 5.

As the Blue Jays head toward a significant rebuild in 2018, one potential hurdle is their former inclusion on Bruce’s no-trade list. Back in July, that list included the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Yankees, Athletics, Rays and Phillies. Granted, the Jays may find it easier to court Bruce’s services now that he’s entered free agency, but unlike the D-backs or Yankees, they finished the 2017 season with a lot left to prove.

Report: Padres acquire Tommy Pham from Rays

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Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres have acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Single-A middle infielder Xavier Edwards. The Padres are also expected to receive an as yet unknown prospect from the Rays.

Pham, 31, is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and is projected to earn $8.6 million for the 2020 season. This past season with the Rays, Pham was valued at 3.7 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference, playing solid defense while batting .273/.369/.450 with 21 home runs, 68 RBI, 77 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases over 654 plate appearances.

Renfroe, 27, is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn a $3.4 million salary in 2020. He’s coming off of a campaign in which he set a career-high in home runs with 33 while batting .216/.289/.489 with 64 RBI and 64 runs scored across 494 trips to the plate.

Edwards, 20, was selected by the Padres in the first round (38th overall) of the 2018 draft and was ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the organization, per MLB Pipeline. He spent 2019 between Single-A Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinor, batting a combined .322/.375/.396 with 27 extra-base hits, 43 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 34 stolen bases in 561 PA.

The Padres needed to upgrade the offense in the outfield as the club ranked in the bottom-third of the league with an aggregate .740 OPS from all three outfield spots. The club sent Franmil Reyes, who put up an .849 OPS for the Padres over the first four months of 2019, to the Indians at the trade deadline. Wil Myers put up a slightly below average .739 OPS and Manuel Margot posted a light .691 OPS.

It will be interesting to see if the Rays can level up Renfroe. He certainly hits for power but he will need to work on his on-base skills if he is going to help this trade pan out well for the Rays. Edwards will help as well, as he is rated No. 72 overall among prospects across the league, according to MLB Pipeline. Along with the talent acquired in the trade, the Rays save a bit of money swapping Pham for Renfroe.