Bring back Terry Francona!

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“For whatever reason, owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington chose not to fire Valentine on Monday …”

That quote, from the never quick-to-call-for-the-axe Ken Rosenthal, pretty much sums up your early morning long form reading.  Here’s Rosenthal’s take on what the Red Sox should do — re-hire Terry Francona! — and here’s Jeff Passan’s take on why Bobby Valentine was such a dumbass hire to begin with and a look at just how bad it’s gotten in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Rosenthal’s idea is a fun one, even if he himself admits that it’ll never happen. No, for the Red Sox to re-hire Francona John Henry and Larry Lucchino would have to admit that they made a gigantic blunder. And Francona would have to set aside what is likely still considerable anger over just how forcefully he was thrown under the bus last fall. This despite the fact that, yeah, Francona is still the best guy for that job.

You have to figure, though, that Valentine is gone the day after the season ends regardless. And the question Rosenthal asks — who replaces him — is a pretty darn good one, with no good answers available.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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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.