There’s a player who is helping a team with its playoff push. That player is having his best year from a power-hitting perspective of his career at age 35. That player was recently given a 50-game drug suspension. That player is represented by the ACES agency. Given all of that you’d think he’d be public enemy number one among the PED police, but he’s gotten little if any scrutiny. That player is Marlon Byrd.
Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today talks to Byrd about all of that. Nightengale writes that “there are people out there convinced he’s cheating, that somehow, someway, he has found a way to circumvent the system,” but I really can’t recall anyone actually questioning Byrd this year. For the most part it’s been “nice season” and “hey, what a good free agent pickup by the Mets.” I can’t recall anyone talking about him as if it was certain he was cheating or anything.
Which, good. Byrd got caught last year and did his time. He’s been tested this year and has passed them all. It’s nice that, at least in his case, people are willing to let the past be the past and allow the drug testing system, as opposed to their irrational convictions, decide if the player is clean or not and if he’s deserving of vilification or not.
Not sure why some players get treated fairly like Byrd is and some don’t, but it happens all the time.
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.