Top prospect Brett Lawrie begins his rehab assignment

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Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie, who was on the verge of taking over as Toronto’s third baseman before suffering a fractured hand May 31, will begin a rehab assignment at Single-A Dunedin tonight.

Lawrie hit .354/.415/.677 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 52 games for Triple-A Las Vegas before going down, and the common belief was that he was only a couple of days away from getting promoted to the majors.

Unfortunately, Lawrie’s six-week absence has seen circumstances change in a big way.  The Jays were trying to get by with Jayson Nix, Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald at third base before Lawrie got hurt.  Now they’ve reinstalled Jose Bautista at his old position, and they have youngsters Travis Snider and Eric Thames playing well in the outfield corners at the moment.

Depending on how he comes back, Lawrie may have to wait until September for his promotion now.  He could force his way onto the major league roster if he immeditely resumes hitting like he did during the first two months, but the Blue Jays are content with their corner situation as is.  They might even decided to stick Lawrie in an outfield corner, given that he’s struggled so far with the adjustment to third base.  Bautista, though he prefers to play the outfield, is the better defender of the two.

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.