Reds acquire Gray, extend RHP through 2022
Cincinnati also gets Minor League lefty for Long, Comp Draft pick
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 12:31 PM ET
CINCINNATI -- The Reds continued the overhaul of their rotation by acquiring right-hander Sonny Gray in a trade with the Yankees on Monday. Gray signed a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension through 2022, with a $12 million club option for '23.
Also going to the Reds is Minor League left-hander Reiver Sanmartin. The Yankees received second-base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick from Cincinnati. New York immediately dealt Long to the Mariners for outfield prospect Josh Stowers.
With Gray already signed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract that avoided arbitration for 2019, he's set to earn $38 million over the next four years. His new deal contains salary escalators and bonuses.
Video: Gray discusses trade to Reds, new opportunity
"Conceptually, we always wanted to add three starters if we could do so economically," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "We just thought that would really improve our overall depth."
In separate trades made last month, the Reds received right-hander Tanner Roark from the Nationals and left-hander Alex Wood from the Dodgers. Gray, Roark and Wood will join a rotation with holdover Luis Castillo. The fifth spot could be a battle between Anthony DeSclafani, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and others.
Once the Reds and Yankees agreed to make their trade, the Reds were given a 72-hour window to negotiate the extension with Gray. Roark and Wood both have one-year contracts and can become free agents after the season.
"Once we acquired the two guys with the one-year deals, we said that we would only acquire Sonny if we were able to extend him," Williams said. "We didn't want to be in a position where all three starters would be becoming free agents next year. That was a condition of pursuing this trade."
Featuring mostly young starters in 2018, the Reds' rotation ranked 14th out of 15 National League clubs with a 5.02 ERA and a league-high 151 home runs allowed. Cincinnati is much more optimistic heading into this season.
"We have a chance to go into this season with the best rotation we've had in five years," Reds general manager Nick Krall said. "It makes you feel better about where you are and looking at your club with guys that have been solid Major League starters. We've got a whole group of them."
Video: Gray traded to Reds in three-team deal
Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games last season. In his 23 starts, he posted a 9-9 record and a 5.26 ERA. The 29-year-old began 2018 in the rotation, but he moved to the bullpen in early August and made a pair of spot starts late in the season.
Those numbers would not appear to be superlative on the surface, but the Reds are clearly counting on a change of scenery being beneficial for Gray. In 15 games (12 starts) away from Yankee Stadium in 2018, he compiled a 3.17 ERA compared to 6.98 in the Bronx.
Gray will also be reunited with Derek Johnson, his pitching coach at Vanderbilt University. Their pairing helped make Gray a first-round Draft pick (18th overall) of the Athletics in 2011.
Johnson became the Reds' pitching coach in October.
It was Johnson's knowledge and connection to Gray that also helped the Reds zero in on acquiring him.
"It's a guy who is really talented, a guy who I think is in the middle of his prime," Johnson said. "He's also a hungry guy. I think that's the thing that we're all counting on. I know what kind of competitor that Sonny is, and I know last year didn't sit well with him at all. He's going to be out to try and prove something, not only to other people but to himself as well."
Over his six-season career with the A's and Yankees, Gray is 59-52 with a 3.66 ERA. His best year came in 2015, when he finished 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA in 208 innings spanning 31 starts and made the American League All-Star team. In '14, Gray pitched a career-high 219 innings.
Video: Justice on impact of Gray trade to Reds
Adding starting pitching was the Reds' top offseason priority. In acquiring Roark from the Nationals and Wood along with outfielders Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and catcher Kyle Farmer from the Dodgers, Cincinnati has parted with four prospects ranked in the organization's Top 30 list by MLB Pipeline.
Coming off a 95-loss season, their fourth consecutive year with more than 90 losses during a rebuild, the Reds wanted to be aggressive and be a factor in the NL Central immediately.
"You can always improve your club, but I think we have a group of guys who can hold their own with anybody in this division," Williams said. "They played great last year for a long stretch in the middle of the year when we had everybody healthy. We've added to that team. I know our guys feel a sense of confidence."
Even with Spring Training fast approaching with camp set to open on Feb. 12, Williams and Krall aren't done with moves just yet. Center field is still on the agenda, as could be more pitching.
"We still plan to continue to make moves to improve the club," Williams said.