Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes today about how the Yankees dealt with Alex Rodriguez’s last contract. It could be instructive, Goold notes, given how the Cardinals are now poised to give out the biggest contract in the game’s history.
The story is interesting because it touches on something that has always troubled me: if teams can’t give players bonuses for actual performance benchmarks like 100 RBI or 40 home runs, why can the Yankees give A-Rod bonuses for hitting his 660th home run, for example? The answer is that MLB approved the language in A-Rod’s deal specially. It doesn’t say how those clauses are distinguishable from the banned ones, of course. Makes it seem like the Yankees and A-Rod were maybe given special treatment. Which would not surprise me at all.
As for Pujols, I’m not sure how the A-Rod example could come into play. The milestone game has been more or less ruined as a result of steroids souring everyone on Bonds, A-Rod and their friends in the PED-using community. All-Star appearance bonuses and the like aren’t going to cut it because Pujols will get support for that sort of thing even after he’s ceased to be a force.
It seems like the Cardinals will just have to write Pujols giant checks.
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.