Posted on January 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
After several days of speculation, the Cincinnati Reds have completed a trade with the New York Yankees for starter Sonny Gray. In addition to Gray, the Reds have acquired pitching prospect Reiver Sanmartin. In exchange, the Yankees will receive second base prospect Shed Long and a competitive balance pick in this year’s draft. The Yankees then flipped Long to the Mariners for outfield prospect Josh Stowers.
The trade was held up while the Reds worked on an extension with Gray. The sides have since agreed to a three-year deal worth $30.5 million that will kick in after Gray makes $7.5 million during the 2019 season. There is also a club option for the 2023 season worth $12 million. If the Reds up picking up that option, Gray will end up making $50 million over the next five seasons.
It’s been a foregone conclusion all offseason that the Yankees would try to trade Gray. Over a handful of teams expressed interest in acquiring him, but in the end, the Reds were the most persistent. Cincinnati has already made several moves this offseason aimed at trying to compete in 2019, so it would make sense for them to be interested with the Yankees making Gray available. However, signing him to a long-term deal makes the move even more worthwhile.
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Gray, of course, is coming off a down year in which he lost his spot in the starting rotation, which is why the Yankees were eager to move on from him this winter. He finished the season 11-9 with an ERA of 4.90 It was the second time in three years that Gray had a subpar season based on his career numbers. However, Gray is still just 29 and pitched like a genuine ace early in his career while in Oakland. It’s not out of the question that he’ll be able to regain his form as a frontline starter during his time in Cincinnati.
The acquisition of Gray is likely the last step for the Reds completely overhauling their starting rotation this offseason. They have also acquired Alex Wood and Tanner Roark in trades this winter. That trio will be joined by Anthony DeSclafani, who performed like a frontline starter in 2016 before being sidelined for 2017 with elbow issues and struggling this past season. That will leave many of Cincinnati’s young pitchers to battle for the final rotation spot and provide depth in case of injury.
Meanwhile, all three teams involved in Monday’s transaction picked up a prospect. The Reds acquired Sanmartin, a Colombia lefty with a fair amount of prospect but who’s a few years away from the majors. The Mariners acquired Shed, who was previously Cincinnati’s no. 7 prospect, according to MLB.com. He’s an undersized second baseman who has plenty of offensive upside. Finally, the Yankees got Stowers, a 2nd round pick in last year’s draft who boasts solid tools.
Of course, this trade is all about Gray going to the Reds and Cincinnati signing him for the long haul. While he’s endured some poor seasons, Gray still has the potential to be an ace. He’s potentially a pitcher who can lead their rotation for the long-term. In the short-term, having Gray, Wood, and Roark together gives the Reds a rotation that could make them competitive in 2019 if all three pitch to the best of their abilities. Obviously, there is some risk given Gray’s struggles in both 2016 and 2018. However, given his potential, the move is worth the risk for a small-market, rebuilding team like the Reds.