After being removed from the 40-man roster during the offseason, outfielder J.D. Martinez was given his release by the Astros this morning. The news comes from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Martinez posted some impressive numbers as a prospect in the minors and held his own in the big leagues initially, but he hasn’t enjoyed much success since the early part of the 2012 season. The 26-year-old actually led the Astros with 55 RBI in 2012, but this was more of a statement of how awful the team was than anything else. He hit just .250/.272/.378 with seven home runs and an ugly 82/10 K/BB ratio over 86 games with Houston last season and missed quite a bit of time with a wrist injury.
That Martinez passed through waivers unclaimed in November shows how far he has fallen, but he’ll surely get an opportunity elsewhere soon. However, he’ll have to earn his way back on the major league radar.
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.