Don't get defensive over Red Sox's moves

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For those Red Sox fans out there grousing about Theo Epstein electing to replace Jason Bay with Mike Cameron, and Mike Lowell with Adrian Beltre (for far less money, too), remember that a run prevented is just as good as a run scored.

And with Cameron in center field pushing Jacoby Ellsbury to left, and Beltre taking over the hot corner, Epstein got himself two very nice upgrades on the defensive side of things.

Cameron covers so much ground he once literally broke his face on a horrific collision with Carlos Beltran (who also covers a lot of ground) when both were with the Mets. The play came on a ball Ellsbury and Bay wouldn’t have been close to catching.

And Beltre, for his part, can pick it and throw it like few other at third base. He is also quite adept at ranging far down the left field line and catching balls over his shoulder.

The folks at Red Sox Monster are plenty aware of Beltre’s talents, posting a video of his defensive highlights while with the Mariners. It’s a little on the lengthy side (8-plus minutes), but oh-so-impressive.

So don’t despair Boston fans. The Red Sox’s improved defense should help offset the loss of offense, and the money saved helped bring John Lackey to town. Now if Lackey’s elbow will just hold up, and if Beltre would just wear a cup …

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

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.