Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff gave an update on Travis Hafner’s status, revealing that the designated hitter is wearing a walking boot and may need season-ending foot surgery.
Hafner was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a sprained right foot, leading to speculate that the Indians will try to claim Jim Thome off waivers from the Twins to temporarily replace him at DH.
Now it turns out the replacement might not be so temporary, although several teams in front of the Indians on the waiver-wire line could make a play for Thome and force them to consider alternatives.
Hafner has hit .281 with 11 homers and an .812 OPS, but this will be the fourth consecutive season in which he fails to play 120 games and he’s batted just .220 with a .642 OPS since the All-Star break.
Injuries have turned Hafner from a middle-of-the-order, MVP-caliber monster to an oft-injured, reasonably productive DH, but because the Indians locked him up long term before the health problems started he’s still owed $13 million in 2012 with a $13 million option or $2.75 million buyout for 2013.
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.