Bruce could open 2016 with Reds after all

Despite trade rumors since end of season, club not close to dealing outfielder

Bruce could open 2016 with Reds after all

CINCINNATI -- With the start of Spring Training just over a month away, it's looking more and more possible that longtime right fielder Jay Bruce will still be in a Reds uniform when camp opens. Bruce has been one of several veteran players the club has explored trading this winter.

"I think it's conceivable," general manager Dick Williams replied when asked Thursday if it looked likely that Bruce would stay in Cincinnati. "We've had some teams, over the course of the offseason, ask about him. But nothing has moved too far down the road."

Free agent Gerardo Parra agreed to a three-year deal with the Rockies this week, but that did little to quell the logjam of corner outfielders available, as they are now likely looking to move Chris Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez. It's a market that has moved slowly this offseason, with top free agents Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton yet to find new homes.

Bruce is owed $12.5 million in 2016, and there is a $13 million club option for 2017 that has a $1 million buyout. If he is not traded this winter, the Reds could take a look at moving Bruce this summer. With a strong first half, it's possible it could improve his marketability.

"That's definitely a possibility," Williams said. "We don't have our backs up against the wall to do anything. The guy is a talented player. He does a lot of things well. We don't feel like we're forced to do something there if it doesn't make sense for us."

The Reds, who dealt away Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman last month for Minor Leaguers, are still exploring the possibility of making complementary additions, especially on the pitching side.

"We're still being opportunistic," Williams said. "We would add starters, if we need to. The health assessment of a lot of our guys is still ongoing. That will be determining who is going to be full-go at the beginning of Spring Training and by Opening Day. We're still open-minded about adding a starter. It would be a smaller deal on the scale of things.

"It probably won't be so much position players, because we have picked up some guys that have opportunity over the course of the offseason between trades and the Rule 5 Draft and guys from our organization. We feel we have a bunch of guys competing as position players. I wouldn't say no chance, but it's more likely we'd add to the bullpen or starting pitching."

The Reds have a fleet of young pitchers vying for three open spots in the rotation behind Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias. Veteran Homer Bailey is the lone veteran starter on the roster, but he is not expected to be ready until May as he rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Earlier this offseason, the Reds were open to bringing back Bronson Arroyo. The former Reds starter missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

"We're hopeful to get a look at him pitching firsthand and hope to meet with him in person at some point in the next few weeks," Williams said. "Just to see where he is."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.