What they're saying about Lou Piniella's retirement…

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Cubs manager Lou Piniella got the opportunity to explain his sudden retirement before Sunday’s game against the Braves.  It’s more about his sick mother than his frustration with the Cubs’ play, and many folks are sharing great ‘Sweet Lou’ stories this afternoon.

Here is a bit of Piniella’s statement, via Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune:

“When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the
season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to
spend more valuable time with my family. That time has unfortunately
gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected.

I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs
organization for providing me the opportunity to be their manager.  I
wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world and I consider
this the ultimate way to end my managerial career.”

And some reactions to Lou’s departure:

* Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a Mariners perspective: “Piniella is remembered by M’s fans for more than just the wins,” writes Johns.
“His emotional outbursts on the field were legendary, but even more
important was his presence and leadership for a franchise desperately in
need of both.”

* Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com believes that the timing is right for a new manager in Chicago.  But he will remember Piniella with fond memories.  “Sweet Lou provided so many fun moments for fans across all the country,” writes Rosenthal, ”
entertaining us with his classic ejections and rants, not to mention
winning baseball.”

* Adam McCalvy of MLB.com passes along some kind words from Brewers manager Ken Macha.  The two were rivals in the AL West for a while.  “Lou and I talked quite a bit over the years that I managed,” Macha
said. “I said this when he announced his retirement, that I admire the
guys who have done this job for that long, [like] Bobby Cox and [Joe]
Torre. This is not an easy job.”

* Cubs starter Ryan Dempster told the Chicago Tribune that he is said to see Piniella go, but also that he understands the reasoning behind the sudden departure: “Dealing with family issues and
dealing with your mom are something none us ever want to go through,” Dempster
said. “I’m happy for him he gets to go be with her.
  Obviously, the season didn’t
go like we wanted it to but the most important thing is family and he gets to
be with his mom and be around her.”

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.