Without Greene, Rangers should trust German

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When the Rangers moved Michael Young from shortstop to third base after his Gold Glove campaign in 2008, it was clear there was no going back. The Rangers knew Elvis Andrus had more range and they wanted Young to be able to settle into his new position, so they signed Omar Vizquel to serve as a backup and a mentor. Sure, they could have helped themselves offensively if they were willing to use Young as a backup shortstop, but that wouldn’t have been the right way to play it last year.
Perhaps it is now. Andrus showed last year that he’s ready to be an everyday player, and Young settled in nicely at third, playing every one of his 1166 innings in the field at the position. The Rangers wanted to go with a similar arrangement this year, even though Vizquel had little interest in staying, but the Khalil Greene experiment never even got off the ground. Now the Rangers are stuck in a situation in which there are no quality utilitymen available in free agency and no solid backup shortstops on the roster. They can go with the oft-injured Joaquin Arias, but shoulder problems have turned him into an iffy proposition on the left side of the infield. The light-hitting Ray Olmedo is also in camp. But the Rangers’ best utility option is clearly Esteban German, even if he’s played all of 36 innings at shortstops in part of eight major league seasons.
So, the Rangers should again ask Michael Young to think of the team. Young was more than a little hesitant to move to third last year — understandably so, especially in light of the Gold Glove — and he probably prefer not to have to worry about shifting between positions at this point in his career. But if Andrus goes down for any length of time, the Rangers would clearly be better off with Young at short and German at third than Young at third and Arias/Olmedo at short. German is a career .278/.358/.383 hitter, and he can handle both second and third. He’s also good enough to serve as a DH against lefties if Vladimir Guerrero gets hurt.
Of course, the whole point might be moot at the end of the spring. There will undoubtedly be a couple of veteran utilityman available for next to nothing, and the Rangers may well grab one of them if they don’t like what they see from Arias next month.

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.