The Reds, Yankees, and Mariners have finally worked out a deal that will send former All-Star starting pitcher Sonny Gray to Cincinnati — a move that has been heavily speculated about dating back to last week — according to Monday afternoon reports from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and C. Trent Rosecrans.
The full trade includes Gray (who has already received an extension through 2022 with a club option for 2023 from the Reds) and minor-league pitching prospect Reiver Sanmartin heading to Cincinnati, minor-league second baseman Shed Long heading to Seattle, and minor-league outfielder Josh Stowers and a compensatory pick (No. 36 overall) in this year’s draft going to the Yankees:
Sonny Gray has been traded to the Cincinnati Reds, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 21, 2019
Second base prospect Shed Long is headed to the Yankees as part of the return for Sonny Gray, league sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 21, 2019
Reds also get LHP Reiver Sanmartin for Shed Long and comp pick— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) January 21, 2019
The 29-year-old Gray, who was an All-Star and finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 2015, has had an extremely odd career progression. The 2011 Athletics draftee was dominant for his first three seasons from 2013-15, had an injury-marred and unsuccessful 2016 campaign during which he posted a 5.69 ERA over 22 starts and dealt with trapezius and forearm ailments, bounced back to throw for a 3.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 16 starts with the A’s in ‘17, then got traded to the Yankees in a deadline blockbuster and was similarly solid down the stretch. Considering the fact that he didn’t spend any time on the DL, it’s arguable that Gray had the worst season of his career in 2018, posting a 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with 123 strikeouts and 57 walks in 130.1 innings. He was moved to the bullpen down the stretch and started in 23 of his 30 appearances.
With the Yankees having acquired James Paxton while bringing back C.C. Sabathia and J.A. Happ, there wasn’t really much of a need for Gray going forward. He’ll receive a much more substantial opportunity in Cincinnati, where he’s arguably the most intriguing starter in the rotation despite his struggles in 2018. He’ll join fellow offseason trade acquisitions Tanner Roark and Alex Wood in trying to rebuild his value with the Reds.
Great American Ball Park is an ultra-hitter-friendly environment and isn’t exactly an ideal spot for a pitcher to rehab his career. Seeing as they gave him an extension, though, the Reds clearly have confidence in Gray, and it can’t hurt that Derek Johnson — his pitching coach at Vanderbilt — will be his pitching coach again with Cincinnati.
Long, rated as the No. 7 prospect in the Reds organization by MLB Pipeline, is the next-biggest name changing teams as part of the deal. The 23-year-old was already on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster, and after posting a .261/.353/.412 slash line with 12 homers and 19 steals at Double-A Pensacola in 2018, it’s very possible that he could end up contributing to Seattle’s major-league club this season — especially since they traded their middle-infield duo of Robinson Cano and Jean Segura this offseason and replaced them with the substantially less reliable tandem of Dee Gordon and J.P. Crawford.
The 21-year-old Stowers, ranked as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect (in a significantly beefed-up farm system), was a second-round pick out of Louisville in last year’s draft. He’s viewed as an intriguing contact hitter and fielder who has exceptional speed, but obviously he’ll need to progress within a compressed frame of time as a college draftee. He’s coming off a debut campaign during which he hit .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals in 244 plate appearances for the short-season Everett AquaSox.
Sanmartin, a 22-year-old lefty who the Yankees acquired from the Rangers in exchange for right-hander Ronald Herrera back in November 2017, has moved up the minor-league ladder slowly after signing as a 19-year-old out of Colombia, but he’s certainly flashed some intrigue. Over 13 appearances (10 starts) split between short-season Staten Island, Low-A Charleston, High-A Tampa, and Double-A Trenton in 2018, he threw for a 2.81 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP with 58 strikeouts and just four walks in 67.1 innings. He should have a chance to further prove himself in the upper minors in 2019, and perhaps he’ll defy the prospect projections and become a contributor in the majors at some point.