Minnesota wasted little time finding a new veteran catcher, adding free agent Kurt Suzuki one day after trading Ryan Doumit to Atlanta.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Suzuki and the Twins have agreed to a one-year deal and the 30-year-old will compete with rookie Josmil Pinto for playing time behind the plate. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says the contract is worth $2.75 million.
Suzuki is a better fit than Doumit for the Twins’ roster because he actually has a good defensive reputation, whereas Doumit is truly a designated hitter with lots of experience behind the plate. On the other hand Suzuki hasn’t really hit since 2009 or so and was pretty brutal offensively for the past two seasons with a combined .234 batting average and .614 OPS in 212 games for the A’s and Nationals.
Minnesota would clearly like Pinto to emerge as the regular catcher and he has promising offensive potential, but Pinto has some Doumit-like question marks defensively and odds are Suzuki will find his way into Ron Gardenhire’s lineup plenty.
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.