Fans won't turn on tainted Ortiz, writers will

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As the blog’s resident Red Sox fan, this sucks.

As someone who hates writing about steroids, this really sucks.

The latest leak accusing both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz of being
among the 104 major leaguers testing positive for PEDs in 2003 didn’t
come as a huge surprise. I sort of made a case
for Ramirez starting in early 2008 in this space when he was suspended
in May, but there was always at least as much reason to believe he was
a long-term cheater. The suspicions about Ortiz always made a lot of
sense. If Ortiz wasn’t such a personable guy, they probably would have
been louder.

The outing of Ortiz is just another step on the road to, if not
respectability, then at least tolerance for steroids. Dodger fans still
love Ramirez. Yankees fans have played forgive and forget with every
homer from Jason Giambi and now Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox had been
remarkably unstained by steroid talk, even to the point of having fewer
minor leaguers suspended than any other franchise. But it was always a
given that cheaters played a role in the 2004 championship and likely
the one in 2007 as well. Red Sox fans have loved Ortiz too long to
start hating him now. They’ll cheer every homer just like they always
have.

At this point, it certainly seems as though the writers are the ones
with the biggest grudge against steroid users. In most cases, it’s the
same writers who were in better position than anyone to expose steroid
use in the 1990s and failed miserably. The fans are largely sick of the
topic and want to move on. MLB itself would certainly like to move on.

However, one thing that’s going to have to happen before we can
truly move on is the release of the 2003 list. It’s disgusting that
unethical lawyers are letting a name or two slip at a time. The whole
list is going to eventually come out and the sooner the better.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.