The Cincinnati Reds have been rumored as a destination for pitcher Sonny Gray since the offseason began. The trade is close, but not yet final.
The Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees have yet to finalize a trade that will bring Sonny Gray to the Queen City. In exchange for the right-hander, the Reds are reportedly set to send their No. 7 prospect Shed Long along with a 2019 draft pick to the Big Apple. The latest report claim that the Reds are looking to sign Gray to an extension before finalizing the deal.
Sonny Gray did not have a spectacular season in New York last season. The 29-year-old right-hander, who was an All-Star in 2015, went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA last season. Gray recently signed a one-year $7.5M contract and will be a free agent at the end of next season. If the Reds make the trade and fail to sign Gray to extension, he will join Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, and Yasiel Puig as newly acquired players on expiring contracts.
There is a prevailing thought throughout the Reds organization that Gray’s former college pitching coach, who’s now the Reds pitching coach, Derek Johnson, might be able to help Gray get back on track. After a 14-7 in Oakland back in 2015 that saw Gray finish third in the Cy Young voting, he’s gone 26-32 with 4.59 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP.
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Reports came out last night that a trade between the Yankees and Reds was all but a done deal. However, the negotiations appear to have hit a small hurdle, as it now seems that Cincinnati would like to sign Gray to an extension before completing the deal.
As we mentioned earlier, recent acquisitions Wood and Roark, who are slated to be part of the Reds’ starting rotation next season, will be free agents after the upcoming season. Signing Gray to an extension would help solidify the rotation beyond just 2019.
Gray’s home and away splits last season are staggering. While playing in the Bronx, Gray had an ERA of 6.98 with a WHIP of 1.904 while allowing 11 home runs. Away from Yankee Stadium, Gray was 7-5 with a 3.17 ERA, a WHIP of 1.155, and only allowed 3 home runs. Gray’s groundball percentage last season was 50%, 6 points above the league average, which is very important when pitching in Great American Ball Park.
There is a strong contingent of Reds fans who don’t like the proposed move. Not so much because of the player that the Reds may acquire, but who they would be giving up. Long is a Top 10 prospect in the Cincinnati farm system and is a solid hitter. The problem, however, is that Long is limited to playing only second base. We saw this problem last season with Dilson Herrera.
The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of talented infielders in their farm system. Jeter Downs, a shortstop prospect who could also play second base was already shipped to Los Angeles in the trade that Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati. The Reds still have Nick Senzel (No. 1), Jonathan India (No. 4), Jose Israel Garcia (No. 13), Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 20), and Jonathan Willems (No. 26) among their top Minor League prospects.
Regardless of how you feel about the level of compensation that the Cincinnati Reds may give up in order to acquire Sonny Gray, you must admire their willingness to continue to try to improve next year’s roster. To this point, the Reds have given up no Major League talent, unless you consider Homer Bailey, in their attempt to make next year’s team better.