Philip Humber has struggled mightily since throwing a perfect game on April 21, posting a 7.21 ERA in 14 starts while spending some time on the disabled list, and the White Sox have decided to demote him to the bullpen while ditching their brief six-man rotation.
Humber took the demotion in stride, mostly because he refused to call it a demotion:
I don’t think that going to the bullpen is a demotion. That’s disrespectful to the guys who are in the bullpen to say, “I’m good enough to start.” Well, I’m hoping I’m good enough to be in the bullpen. That’s the attitude I take as far as whatever role I’m given, whenever they give me the ball, I’m going to do the best I can with it.
Humber went from prospect bust to solid mid-rotation starter for the White Sox last season and obviously this year’s perfect game led to optimism about his long-term value, but right now he’s 29 years old with a 4.70 ERA in 302 career innings.
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.