As expected, The Los Angeles Angels announced yesterday that Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto will be back next year. Not everyone will be, however: the team has relieved bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard of their duties.
On the one hand: kind of surprising given what we’ve heard about tension between Scioscia and Dipoto and given how poor the results have been. On the other hand (a) owner Arte Moreno loves Scioscia; and (b) Moreno, by all accounts, spearheaded the moves to sign Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, so perhaps he realizes that Dipoto is not a reasonable fall guy for the lack of success.
But there are two fall guys here in Picciolo and Eppard. Unless Kevin Towers has some insight into their alleged shortcomings like he did on Charles Nagy, we’ll likely never know why they fell. As is customary with coach dismissals.
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.