While he may be too late to help the sinking Twins in the American League Central, Justin Morneau is at least swinging the bat well during his minor league rehab assignment.
After going 3-for-5 with two doubles last night, he is now batting .409 (9-for-22) with four doubles and five RBI over his first five rehab games with Triple-A Rochester. Morneau was originally placed on the disabled list in mid-June with a strained left wrist before opting for neck surgery later in the month.
The Twins have lost six in a row and nine out of 10, so they could certainly use the boost, but manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling of MLB.com that Morneau likely won’t be activated from the disabled list until next Monday in Detroit.
“He’s hitting the ball hard,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s getting some swings in. We’ll go day by day and see where he’s at. So probably Detroit or something like that. We’ll see how it goes.”
Morneau, 30, was batting just .225/.281/.338 with four homers and a .619 OPS prior to being placed on the disabled list. A strong finish would at least give the Twins one less thing to worry about headed into what will be an interesting offseason.
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.