The Sonny Gray trade to Cincinnati is officially official, the Yankees announced on Monday. He signed, basically, a three-year extension and the trade went through. The final deal is Sonny Gray and LHP Reiver Sanmartin-whom I’ve never heard of-to Cincy for 2B Shed Long (Reds’ No. 7 prospect according to MLB.com) and a Competitive Balance Pick in the draft, which will be in between the first and second rounds.
The Yankees pulled a fast one, though, immediately sending Long to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 21-year-old center fielder Josh Stowers, who was the No. 10 prospect in Seattle’s system, according to MLB.com.
This move was a surprise, but when you compare the prospects it makes a lot more sense. Stowers is two years younger (Long is 23) at a position with less organizational depth and he is not on the 40-man roster. Shed Long would have needed to be on the 40-man roster, and therefore the Yankees would have had to make another roster move to open up a spot for newly signed Adam Ottavino before that move can be officially official. They would have likely had to DFA/trade either Joe Harvey, Luis Cessa, or Ben Heller in order to open up the spot, and now they don’t have to do that.
Stowers has skills rated about average on the 20-80 scale, according to MLB.com, and he slashed .260/.380/.410 (126 wRC+) in low A last year after being taken with the 54th overall pick (11th pick of the second round) in the 2018 draft. This is what his face looks like:
From the scouting reports I read on Shed Long yesterday, he seems to definitely be a big league player who is close to MLB-ready, but that may not be as a starter long-term. Stowers seems to have the higher ceiling, but is further away and will require some development before being ready for the big leagues, which is an avenue in which the Yankees have excelled for a while now.
This seems to be a typical “Brian Cashman being several moves ahead of everyone else” kind of move, and it makes plenty of sense to me.