Finally, the Sonny Gray trade rumors that have made headlines for months have ended with the long-awaited deal. Gray has officially been shipped from the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds, and as a condition of the trade, the right-hander has agreed to sign a contract extension with the Reds. Along with Gray, the Reds got minor-league left-handed pitcher Reiver Sanmartin from New York.
In addition, the Seattle Mariners, the third team in on this transaction, acquired former Cincinnati prospect Shed Long, a second baseman who was seventh on MLB.com’s Reds prospect rankings. The Yankees, in flipping Long to Seattle as part of the deal, netted outfielder prospect Josh Stowers from the Mariners as well as the Reds’ Competitive Balance Round A draft pick in 2019’s Major League Baseball Draft.
Gray’s contract extension is for three years, extending his existing deal until the end of the 2022 season, with a club option for the 2023 campaign. Gray will receive $7.5 million in 2019 and enjoy an average annual value of $10.16 million over the next three years. The club option is set at $12 million in 2023, and the contract reportedly contains performance incentives such as innings pitched thresholds.
At first glance, there are no losers in this trade, but the biggest winner is the Yankees. After sending prospects to the Oakland Athletics for Gray at the 2017 trade deadline, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award finalist performed disastrously over his year-and-a-half in pinstripes. As a Yankee, Gray posted a 15-16 record with an ERA of 4.51, a 1.416 WHIP, and a below-average 98 ERA+ in 41 games (34 of which were starts).The @Reds made a major move on Monday, acquiring Sonny Gray from the @Yankees in a three-team trade that also featured the @Mariners. @bytomdorsa breaks it all down.Click To Tweet
When New York obtained the services of the former MLB All-Star, general manager Brian Cashman and crew figured they were getting a premier, top-two starting pitcher, and the results were as far from that as possible. Gray even got booed off the hill at Yankee Stadium after laying an egg against the league-worst Baltimore Orioles last summer. With nothing left to hope for out of the starter, and little leverage in trade negotiations involving Gray, the Yankees did a stellar job getting a decent return from a package of damaged goods.
For the Yankees to get an adequate outfield prospect (Stowers ranked 10th in a revamped, solid Mariners prospect core) and a high draft pick for Gray, someone that fell from grace so rapidly over the last two seasons, is an act of magic from Cashman and the Yankees. On the Reds side, you can see why they would go forth with the acquisition of Gray.
To commit to a struggling starter, and to sign him to a contract extension that runs until he’s 33 years old, is a big sign of belief in the former star. Gray has the potential to be an ace, even after his hardship as a Yankee, and has shown before that he can be a top-of-the-line starter. If you can get a former All-Star and Cy Young Award finalist who still, apparently, has a lot left in the tank, for a prospect and a draft pick, then good on GM Nick Krall of the Reds to jump on it.
It isn’t the first big trade the Reds have executed this winter, after trading for Los Angeles Dodgers staples Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood, and having acquired Washington Nationals righty Tanner Roark in a trade before that. It has been a busy offseason in Cincinnati, with the introduction of new manager David Bell to add to the list of intriguing trades. Monday’s trade for Gray, though, is the most interesting by far.
For the Mariners, this is yet another upgrade in a farm system looking for more pure talent. Long joins Seattle’s top two prospects, first-ranked Justus Sheffield and second-ranked Jarred Kelenic, as prospects with All-Star potential acquired this offseason. Jerry Dipoto, the team’s GM, got Sheffield and more from the Yankees in the James Paxton trade, and Kelenic and more from the New York Mets in exchange for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
All in all, it was a formidable trade for all parties involved. The Yankees made the front page by finally getting rid of someone who got on the bad end of their rabid fanbase, the Reds continued making moves to line themselves up to contend, and the Mariners are still loading their farm system up.