Spinning the Astros' moves

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The one bit of conventional wisdom that came out of Indianapolis is that the Astros made some really, really bad moves. Brandon Lyon for $15 million?  Pedro Feliz?  This is not the stuff a smart team does.

But they do have at least one defender. This unattributed post comes from the FOX Sports.com rumors blog that had recently started doling out attribution between Rosenthal, Morosi and Ringolsby depending upon whose story it was. No one is claiming this, however:

So, [the Astros] ended up with Lindstrom, Lyon and Feliz for almost the same
amount of money — in 2010, anyway — that it would have cost them to
keep Valverde.

Whether you’re a fan of those three players or
not, we can agree that Houston general manager Ed Wade has more talent
on his roster now than if Valverde had accepted the arbitration offer.

I guess that’s one way to put it. Another way to put it is that they’ve spent more than $10 million on parts that only begin to fill their many, many holes. That the players they spent more than $10 million on aren’t worth the money they’re making and that as currently constructed — and without much more available in the way of cash — the 2010 Astros stand to be substantially worse than the 2009 Astros. And that doesn’t even take into account the two additional years on the Lyon contract.

This spin reminds me of the sort of thing my dad says when he’s at Best Buy. He’ll covet a TV or something else he can’t afford, dismiss it, and then walk out of the store with three things that, together, cost as much.  When you ask him why he bought that stuff, he’ll cite all the money he saved by not buying the TV.

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.