C’mon Nats fans, you knew this sneak preview would end eventually.
Though the Nationals didn’t include last year’s No.1 overall pick Bryce Harper in their first round of cuts yesterday, he was sent to low-Class A Hagerstown following this afternoon’s win over the Yankees, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
The Nationals insisted that Harper had no chance to make the team out of spring training, so today’s news doesn’t come as a surprise. Still, the 18-year-old hitting sensation was pretty impressive in limited action. After striking out twice on just seven pitches in his Grapefruit League debut against the Mets, Harper went 7-for-16 with three doubles and five RBI. He was hit by a pitch in his only at-bat against the Yankees this afternoon.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t ruled out Harper playing in the majors this season, but the most likely scenario is that he arrives as a September call-up.
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.