The powerful 28-year-old, who can also play on the wing, is believed to have had a medical and appears on the brink of becoming incoming head coach Richard Cockerill’s first external signing for the new season.
The Bath Chronicle reported that Fruean had been offered contracts by Bath and Edinburgh but was “now only in talks with the Pro12 club”.
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder - himself a former Edinburgh player and coach - told the Chronicle: “The Robbie Fruean situation is that he’s in contract negotiations with another club and not with us.”
Fruean is a junior All Black with extensive Super Rugby experience and would appear an ideal replacement for Scotland internationalist Mark Bennett, who suffered a long-term injury after confirming his switch to Edinburgh from Glasgow.
In 2011, Fruean formed a successful midfield partnership with the legendary Sonny Bill Williams at the Crusaders. He has also turned out for the Hurricanes and the Chiefs.
The player has battled back from a knee injury this season and has been a popular figure with The Rec supporters.
One issue down the line could be his desire to qualify for Samoa, for whom the Wellington-born player has blood ties. In order to be available to the Pacific Islanders in the 15-a-side 2019 World Cup, the former New Zealand age-grade player intends to play for Samoa in the 2018-19 sevens series, which would make him unavailable to his club for chunks of the season. Fruean needs to play in at least four Olympic Sevens qualifying events on the world circuit as part of the required criteria to switch allegiance to Samoa.