Bryce Harper has his eye on joining the annual Best Shape Of His Life list, telling Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he plans to lift tons of weights this offseason and get “as big as a house” by the time spring training rolls around.
Harper also told Kilgore that the nagging knee and hip injuries he dealt with for much of the season won’t require surgery and “it’s more trying to take the time off and let everything settle down.”
Harper got off to an incredible start to his sophomore season at age 20, hitting .373 with nine homers through 23 games, but then he started crashing into walls and playing through injuries and ended up hitting just .249 with 11 homers in his final 95 games. Or as Harper put it: “Body-wise, I felt pretty good except for when I did run into the walls.”
Overall he still finished with a strong .854 OPS, which was a 37-point increase from his rookie season, and Best Shape Of His Life or not a healthy Harper should have a huge 2014.
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.