Still, several factors work against a Bruce trade. For one, Bruce has a limited no-trade clause that reportedly includes several contenders, including the D-backs, Red Sox, Twins and Yankees. But Bruce has said in the past that he would waive his no-trade rights for the right situation.
More importantly, the market for high-power, defensively-limited sluggers has not developed much since the winter, when the Mets were unable to find a suitable return for Bruce. Only one significant outfielder, J.D. Martinez, moved prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the D-backs acquired him for what many scouts considered a below-market deal.
"I think what you've seen across the board is ... the significant majority of players that have moved have been pitchers," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said this week. "And I think that's not a reflection on the players themselves that might have been available, or any of the players we have. I think it's more a reflection of where the clubs in contention have needs."
Perhaps most importantly, the Mets can see a future with Bruce in it. Club officials have openly discussed using Michael Conforto in center field beyond this season, freeing a corner outfield spot for someone such as Bruce. Almost certainly, the Mets will extend Bruce an $18.1-million qualifying offer this winter, ensuring them at least a compensatory Draft pick after the second round next June. But even if Bruce rejects that offer, the Mets would increase their chances of re-signing him by keeping him around for the balance of this season.
"I don't control any of those rumors," Bruce said earlier this week. "Anything that's said about me, I just come out here and do my job. There's Twitter, there's the internet, which is pretty popular these days. It's all that stuff, it's just so easy ... and the bottom line is none of it's true until it happens."
Even if Bruce is not traded, the Mets are working to complete at least one deal this month. Infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker and outfielder Curtis Granderson are all candidates to be moved. Of that group, only Cabrera is under team control next season.
"That's always a possibility," Alderson said of waiver deals. "It's very possible that some or all of those players will clear waivers."
Alderson indicated Friday that the club may call up second-ranked prospect Dominic Smith after it completes a waiver deal, though a trade is not necessarily a prerequisite for Smith's promotion.