Labor talks: Now baseball is just rubbing it in

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The NFL labor situation turned apocalyptic on Friday, with talks breaking off, lawsuits being filed and rhetoric being unleashed that will take months to walk back before real progress can be made.  In light of this, it’s almost as if baseball is gloating, what with it being ahead of schedule in its efforts to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place. Barry Bloom of MLB.com:

The second round of collective bargaining between officials for Major League Baseball and the Players Association will occur sometime during the next few weeks in the Phoenix area, Michael Weiner, the union’s executive director, said on Sunday morning after meeting with the Rangers.

The two sides had an amicable meeting in Florida on March 2, and Weiner said he hopes that regular sessions occur once the season begins on March 31.

“In 2006 we didn’t really get into that sort of rhythm until sometime in June,” Weiner said. “I think we’ll be able to do that sooner this time.”

Both Weiner and Bud Selig wax cautiously yet optimistically, citing that “whole range of issues” thing we’ve heard before as opposed to anyone citing one issue that looks to be a sticking point.  Indeed, the lack of a single contentious issue is probably the biggest reason we’ll get a new CBA with very little strife.

Which has me rather contemplative about Bud Selig’s legacy.  The 1994-95 work stoppage that cost us the World Series is, in my view, primarily his doing and it should be in the first paragraph of his Hall of Fame plaque that — whether we like it or not — he will almost certainly be given one day.

But at the same time, he has also presided over what has been an unprecedented era of labor peace. At least unprecedented since the days when the owners treated players like chattel and the players didn’t say much about it.  Assuming this deal gets done, the game will have gone over 20 years without a work stoppage and over 12 years since there was even any contentiousness to speak of.

Bud can’t be forgiven for the strike.  But the hard lesson he learned from it has certainly informed his approach since then. And that’s to his credit, I think.

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.