Examining Pros And Cons Of Dodgers Potentially Trading For Jay Bruce
Examining Pros And Cons Of Dodgers Potentially Trading For Jay Bruce
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline quickly approaching, the Los Angeles Dodgers presumably will attempt to upgrade their roster over the next five weeks in preparation for another postseason run.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a recent interview the club would target ‘elite-level players’ at the deadline, and added who is available will become more clear over the next few weeks.

One weakness the Dodgers can stand to improve upon is finding another left-handed hitting outfielder to fill the void of Andre Ethier, who is still recovering from a fractured tibia that has sidelined him since the middle of March.

The last update provided on Ethier is his recovery is progressing slower than expected and there isn’t a timetable for his return.

Carl Crawford was assumed to at least tread water during Ethier’s absence, but was designated for assignment earlier this month and has since been released after batting a disastrous .180/.230/.235 in 87 plate appearances.

The Dodgers signed recently veteran Will Venable but he only lasted six games before eventually accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

In a rather bleak market for outfielders, one prominent name has already been connected to the Dodgers — Cincinnati Reds slugger Jay Bruce. The 29 year old will become a free agent at the conclusion of this season and figures to be the top rental bat available for clubs looking to enhance their offense.

Other teams reportedly interested in trading for him include the Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and rival San Francisco Giants, so there will be plenty of competition for his services.

With financial flexibility and an elite farm system, the Dodgers have the resources to acquire almost any player they desire — but should they engage in a bidding war for a player that’s far from complete? Let’s explore the pros and cons of trading for Bruce.


Since the 2012 season, Bruce leads all qualified National League outfielders with 420 RBIs and is second in home runs with 125.

Among qualified outfielders this season, Bruce leads the Majors in RBIs (59), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.574) and ISO (.296), 10th in home runs (17) and 17th in wOBA (.372).

There’s no question he would be a significant upgrade in the middle of the Dodgers lineup and he backs up his impressive statistics with encouraging road splits.

In 135 plate appearances on the road this season, Bruce is slashing .320/.363/.632 with 23 extra-base hits (six home runs) and a 160 wRC+. That’s in contrast to a respectable .241/.293/.524 slash line with four doubles and 11 home runs in 157 trips to the plate at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.

Additionally, Bruce has enjoyed surprising success against left-handed pitching this season, posting a 109 wRC+ in 84 plate appearances — easily exceeding his career mark of 92.


While Bruce has tremendous offensive ability, he is a major liability on the defensive side. For the season, his UZR/150 of -28.4 is the worst among all qualified NL outfielders. In fact, only Coco Crisp of the Oakland Athletics sports a worse rating in the Majors at -30.5.

In terms of defensive runs saved, Bruce checks in at -9, which also ranks dead last in the NL. Only J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers has been worse in that category with -11.

Because of his poor defense, Bruce has only posted 0.2 WAR to date despite his excellent offensive showing thus far.

Shifting focus back to the plate, Bruce has also shown a tendency to strike out at alarming rates. For his career, he has a 24 percent strikeout rate, with his highest mark coming just two seasons ago (27.3 percent).

However, his current 20.9 rate would be his lowest mark in a season since 2009. Another downside to Bruce’s game is his inability to draw walks and reach base at a high clip.

On the year, his .325 on-base percentage is modest at best and it would be his highest mark since the 2013 season. But, his 6.2 walk rate would be his lowest mark as a professional; nearly three points below his career average.

After weighing the pros and cons, Bruce certainly wouldn’t be a bad acquisition for the Dodgers, depending on the asking price of course. If another team is willing to overpay though, it might be worth prioritizing other players that become available over the coming weeks instead.