Sonny Gray
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Yankees might wait to move Sonny Gray

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Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray has been one of the most talked-about pitchers on the chopping block this offseason, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a trade is imminent. As general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Friday, several factors might delay Gray’s next move, including lingering concerns about CC Sabathia‘s health and the need to get a “proper return” for the starter.

Last month, Sabathia underwent an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery in his heart. The procedure and subsequent recovery time was not expected to interfere with the 38-year-old’s plans to report to spring training, but the club isn’t taking any chances until they get the all-clear after his follow-up later this month.

Even in a worst-case scenario — one in which Sabathia’s health (and career) is more seriously compromised — the Yankees may not intend to hold onto Gray forever. As Cashman put it (via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch): “Our intention is to move Sonny Gray and relocate him, when we get the proper return, in our estimation. It’ll happen this winter, it’ll happen in the spring or it’ll happen sometime during the season.”

The team finished 2018 with the fifth-best rotation in the majors and figures to enter the 2019 season with a mix of Sabathia, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, and newcomer James Paxton. They have yet to name a frontrunner in the Sonny Gray sweepstakes, but have received interest from a slew of major-league competitors, including the Brewers, Padres, Braves, Mariners, Twins, Athletics, Rangers, and Reds, among others.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.