So much for all that talk about Matsuzaka being healthy and in good shape and all of that:
According to translations, the Kyodo News and the Japanese sports web
site Sponichi Annex reported a few days ago that Matsuzaka, who was an
early arrival here, had skipped his throwing session at the end of last
week because of tightness in his back, and his no-show on the field
Tuesday would suggest that the condition had not improved sufficiently
to resume throwing. The Japanese media outlets had reported that the
Red Sox were aware of the condition, though Red Sox general manager
Theo Epstein did not mention it while discussing Matsuzaka with
reporters on Monday.
There was concern among some in Red Sox land that Tim Wakefield would become disgruntled as a result of not having a set spot in the rotation. If this is a harbinger of another injury-filled season for Dice-K, Wakefield may very well be quite gruntled this season.
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.