Could the Washington Nationals look to acquire Reds outfielder Jay Bruce before the August 1 trade deadline?
It’s been no secret that the Washington Nationals haven’t gotten much production at first base this season. Ryan Zimmerman and Clint Robinson have combined to hit .219, which is the second lowest team batting average in the National League. Could the Nats look to make an upgrade at that position with a player that they have been facing this weekend at Nats Park?
Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network said in his Full Count video that the Washington Nationals have talked about trading for outfielder Jay Bruce. This season, Bruce has a slash line of .272/.319/.551 with 17 home runs and 60 RBI’s (third in the National League).
The 29-year-old right fielder had his best month of the season in June. In 110 at-bats, Bruce had seven home runs and 26 RBI’s. The 26 RBI’s were tied for fourth in the NL with his teammate, Adam Duvall.
While Bruce normally plays the outfield, I wouldn’t see that as a spot he would play with the Washington Nationals. Yes, Bryce Harper could always move to center field, but then you would have to find a spot for Ben Revere, who is hitting .370 over his last 27 at-bats.
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If there is one spot where the Washington Nationals could put Bruce, it is at first base. But, Bruce only has played three career games at first base and that came in 2014. Last night, Bryan Price elected to play Duvall at first instead of Bruce after Joey Votto was scratched from the lineup due to a sore shoulder.
With that being said, Bruce does have some familiarity with Dusty Baker when Baker was managing with the Reds. Plus, Rosenthal also noted in his report that the Washington Nationals are not one of the teams that Bruce could block a trade to on his no-trade list. However, he is only a .198 hitter in his career at Nats Park (26 games).
One of the interesting stats about Bruce this season is his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. In those situations, Bruce is hitting .394 with five home runs and 40 RBI’s along with a .432 on-base percentage. The 40 RBI’s is tied with Matt Kemp for the fifth most in the NL.
It would be a tough decision for the Washington Nationals on whether or not to move Ryan Zimmerman to the bench for the rest of this season. However, if it is for a right-handed power bat like Bruce who has a team option for next season ($13 million with a $1 million buyout), it’s easy to see why the Nats would be considering making an upgrade to this offense.