When the Trade Deadline arrives on Aug. 1, Jay Bruce may no longer be with the Cincinnati Reds.
Bruce's name has swirled in trade talks for much of the past year, and rumors have only intensified as he's hit .263/.314/.530, tacking on 19 home runs and 66 RBIs.
But the Texas native knows the drill. After all, Bruce has had two close calls as of late -- nearly being traded to the Mets at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline and then being named in a three-way Angels-Reds-Blue Jays deal that wound up disintegrating after other involved players failed physicals.
So he wouldn't be surprised if his name reappears in trade rumors.
"It definitely will not surprise me if I am [traded]. There are no definites in this game until after a transaction is made," Bruce said at this year's All-Star Game. "I will consider myself a Red until I am literally not playing in that jersey anymore. Last year I was traded, and then here I am, an All-Star for the Reds.
"It's a situation the Reds are in where they have to see if they can better their organization. If they feel that they can, then maybe they will."
If that happens, Bruce said, he'll harbor no hard feelings toward the club that gave him his beginning in baseball, having drafted him out of high school in the first round of the 2005 Draft.
"It's all I know," Bruce said. "The Reds' organization is who I got my start with, who gave me a chance to play professional baseball initially, and it's an organization that will always be the nearest and dearest to [me]."
The Reds' brass have hung with their homegrown talent, despite an extended rough patch.
The past two years hadn't been kind to Bruce. In 2014, he was forced to have surgery on a torn meniscus early in the year. Despite missing just two weeks, he never recouped fully, by his own admission, and his play reflected that. That year, he posted a .217/.281/.373 slash line with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs.
And 2015 wasn't much better, despite a clean bill of health. Last year, Bruce managed only slightly higher numbers, batting .226/.294/.434 with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs.
"In 2014 and 2015, I just knew that wasn't me as a player," Bruce said the day before the All-Star Game. "Maybe other people didn't. Maybe other people started to doubt, maybe [they thought] I was getting old at 28 or whatever, but that just usually doesn't happen. I just knew. I knew that I was better than that."
Those struggles took their toll, but Bruce has found his stride in 2016 and led many to wonder if the Reds will look to trade him as the Deadline approaches.
Bruce's 2016 numbers could be construed as a redemption of sorts, but he knew he had it in him.
"This year, I've gotten back to the norm for me. That's what kept me going -- knowing [2014-15] wasn't me as a player," Bruce said. "This is much more [representative of] me as a player."
And he thinks there's still more in the tank.
"You never get comfortable, because even though I had a great first half -- [good] enough to make the All-Star team -- I still feel like there's more there," Bruce said. "I think that anyone at an extremely high level in their profession probably chases that. You know, you're never satisfied. So I'm going to keep going and keep searching for it, keep playing and try to help the Reds win games."
Megan Zahneis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.