It's rough out there for a gray hair

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You know that sinking feeling you get when your team decides to go all-in on some increasingly calcifying veteran free agent on the wrong side of 35? Well, it’s happening less and less:

For a group of big-name baseball free agents over the age of 35, last year was a winter of serious discontent.

Frank Thomas, Jim Edmonds, Ray Durham, Paul Lo Duca and many others
were hit by a deep freeze that left proven veteran Major Leaguers
without big league offers, and in some cases, even Minor League
invites. It was cold and puzzling, and yet another harsh sign of the
economic times.

A year later, with the Hot Stove season in full swing, similarly aged
former star players such as Garret Anderson, Brian Giles, Jim Thome,
Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Darin Erstad, Miguel Batista and Randy
Winn might find themselves wondering where they’ll be employed, or
quite possibly having to prove themselves in Spring Training all over
again.

Sure, two-thirds of those guys will get multi-year offers from the Giants, but what are the other guys gonna do?

But seriously, is there one name on that list that is a better than anyone your team has in a given position right now? Maybe Thome would still be useful as a DH, but with the Andruw Jones signing, even his most speculated-about landing pad — the White Sox — may not be an option.

It’s always been amazing to me that a game that is such a brutal meritocracy on the way up has been an old boys club on the back end.  Those days are all but gone now, and while that may be sad in any given case — who didn’t want to see Jim Edmonds take a victory lap last season? — it’s a good thing for the game in the aggregate.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.