I don't disagree with Bruce Levine when he says the Sox could use that piece, but I am unconvinced that Jay Bruce is the right man for the job -- especially considering that the Cincinnati Reds would most likely want the Sox to take on most of the $12.5 million Bruce is owed for the 2016 season in any deal.
Reports outside Chicago, most notably from MLB Network's Jon Heyman, indicate the Sox and Reds have not had any recent talks about Bruce. Heyman reports the Sox are not seeking a starting outfielder after their recent signing of Austin Jackson. I tend to think Heyman is correct.
That didn't stop the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh from adding to the Bruce talk, and in a bizarre twist, Haugh seems to believe the Sox should acquire Bruce with the idea of pushing Adam Eaton to the bench.
Here's what Haugh wrote:
"The broader big-picture question involving Eaton should be what to do with him if the Sox acquire outfielder Jay Bruce, the left-handed power hitter the Reds reportedly want to trade. Several other teams remain interested in Bruce, scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2016, and WSCR-AM 670 reported two top Reds scouts have been regulars at Camelback Ranch. If Sox general manager Rick Hahn can pull it off, Bruce would join former Reds teammate Todd Frazier in the middle of an increasingly dangerous Sox lineup.
"Trading for Bruce to play right field with Jackson in center and Melky Cabrera in left likely would make Eaton a fourth outfielder and part-time designated hitter -- perhaps platooning with Avisail Garcia -- Eaton's ideal role on a contending Sox team. It also would make Eaton's five-year, $23.5 million contract extension signed a year ago all the more baffling. Bruce offers 30 home-run potential, a capable glove and an expiring contract, which Hahn appears to be collecting."
I'm not sure if Haugh is expecting us to take this narrative seriously, but let's humor him with some player comparisons. Tell me which of these four 2015 statistical profiles you like best:
Player A: .267/.311/.385, 2.3 fWAR
Player B: .287/.361/.431, 3.6 fWAR
Player C: .226/.294/.434, 0.1 fWAR
Player D: .273/.314/.394, -0.3 fWAR
So, what's your verdict? Who's the best player in the bunch? You gotta go with Player B, right?
Player B has the highest batting average, the highest on-base percentage, the second-highest slugging percentage (only .003 behind Player C) and the best fWAR.
Mr. Haugh might be interested to know that Player B is Eaton, the guy he thinks belongs on the bench.
For the record, Player A is Jackson, Player C is Bruce and Player D is Cabrera.
Eaton, to me, is the third-best positon player on the Sox, behind only Jose Abreu and Frazier. I look at him as a core player, and I can't see any rational baseball reason for him to be displaced from the lineup for a player such as Bruce. Play Eaton wherever you want in the outfield, but he and his .361 on-base percentage need to be at the top of the lineup for the Sox this year. There is no question about that.
Haugh wrote that, "this week's discussion over where incumbent center fielder Adam Eaton plays was cute," and I'm not sure what he means by that.
I'm not being cute at all when I tell you that some members of the Chicago sports media would be well-served to do a little research and maybe watch a few White Sox games before they sit down at a computer and offer their "opinions" about the team.