Report: New York Yankees Trade Sonny Gray to Cincinnati Reds

After speculation over the weekend, it is now being reported that the New York Yankees have traded Sonny Gray to the Cincinnati Reds. Prospect Shed Long is believed to be one of the key pieces of the deal and is reportedly headed to the Seattle Mariners, making it a three-team deal.

In addition to the trade, Gray is expected to sign an extension with the Reds:

Possible Revitalization

There was much speculation as to Gray’s landing spot after Brian Cashman declared he would be traded this offseason. Ultimately, he lands in the best possible spot to rebound after a rough stint in the Bronx.

To start, Gray will reunite with Derek Johnson, currently the Reds pitching coach. Johnson was the pitching coach at Vanderbilt University from 2002-2012. Gray pitched for Johnson from 2008-2011 before being drafted in the first round.

Cincinnati is a small media market, similar to Oakland where Gray thrived. This bodes well for Gray who really seemed to struggle in the large media market that is New York City.

While Great American Ball Park is known as a stadium where balls fly, it is not frivolous to expect Gray to bounce back there. Matt Harvey just experienced the same renaissance in Cincinnati after his career fell apart with the Mets.

Harvey was 9-19 with a 5.93 ERA in 39 starts with the Mets from 2016-2018 before finishing 2018 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 24 starts as a Red. Harvey showed enough stability to garner an $11 million contract from the Angels.

Gray pitched to a 2.88 ERA in his first 500 innings in Oakland before an injury plagued 2016. He finished his tenure there with a 3.42 ERA in 705 innings.

One can only hope the same career stabilization unfolds for Gray as did Harvey. He was 15-16 with a 4.50 ERA in 41 games (34 starts) as a Yankee.

Yankees Return

The Yankees were expected to receive a promising young second baseman in Shed Long. Instead, it appears Long is headed to the Mariners while outfielder Josh Stowers is coming to New York. Long ranks as the Red’s seventh-best prospect and is a nice get for the Mariners. describes him as someone with lightning fast bat speed and quick hands. His left handed bat is seen to have legitimate power as a result. Long’s strikeout totals are high but he has shown improved walk rates and a willingness to use all fields. His speed is adequate, but he is an aggressive runner, stealing 19 bases last year. His defense is ok, but he only just made the switch from catcher in 2015.

Long’s estimated time of arrival in Cincinnati was 2018, but he was blocked by Scooter Gennett at the Major League level and top prospect Nick Senzel, who plays second base and third base, in Triple-A.

Reds Outlook

The Reds are a dark horse candidate to be the most improved team in baseball in 2019. So far this off season, they have added Tanner Roark, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and now Sonny Gray.

These additions are quality moves. The Reds add serious stability to their rotation in Roark, Wood, and now Gray. When pitching well, they can all be middle of the rotation type of arms.

The interesting aspect of all of these moves is that a number of these players are all entering the final years of their contracts. They all definitely make the team better in 2019, but how many of them are actually a part of the Reds plans moving forward? The answer to that will probably change as the season goes on, but for now, it proves to be a big question mark.

Long term questions aside, their improvements should see both a higher win total and more tickets sales. Should the former not come to fruition, the latter will still help the organization significantly.

Winners and Losers

If reuniting with Derek Johnson works well, and Gray returns to form, then this is a fantastic trade for the  Reds. The issue is that this is a major “if.” Gray can still be a solid, reliable starting pitcher, but his days as a number one starter are over.

Meanwhile, the Yankees turned a struggling pitcher into pieces for the future. Additionally, the move clears Gray’s salary for 2019 off the books.

While the balances tip in the Yankees favor, there is no clear winner for this trade at the moment. Time will certainly tell, but right now both clubs have acquired high upside players.

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