Back in early August, when Jed Lowrie returned from the disabled list, manager Terry Francona indicated that Lowrie and Marco Scutaro would “split” playing time at shortstop for the Red Sox.
That didn’t last very long, however, as Lowrie was needed to fill in for the injured Kevin Youkilis at third base and Scutaro has now started 16 of the past 18 games at shortstop.
Scutaro is also hitting .308 with an .816 OPS during that time, which would seemingly make him the Red Sox’s choice to continue starting at shortstop down the stretch and into the playoffs, but Francona stopped short of saying that when asked yesterday.
“I guess it depends on how we’re playing and how guys are playing,” Francona told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. “It seems like things change weekly, if not daily. I guess I would fall back on the answer that I’ll try to put us in the best position to win and see what that is. I don’t think it’s necessary to have one guy be the shortstop. At the same time, maybe there’s a hot [hitter]. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
It’s a nice problem to have, of course, but right now everything points to Scutaro getting the bulk of the work.
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.