The New York Yankees have officially acquired Josh Stowers from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Shed Long, whom they immediately flipped after acquiring along with a 2019 compensation round draft pick from the Cincinnati Reds for starting pitcher Sonny Gray and minor league reliever Reiver Sanmartin.
Gray, 29, was initially acquired at the trade deadline by the Yankees from the Oakland Athletics along with $1 million of IFA bonus money for minor leaguers Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, and James Kaprielian. The trade reunites Gray with his collegiate pitching coach from Vanderbilt. Whereas a college junior he ended up becoming the 18th overall selection in the 2011 June Amateur First-Year Player Draft.
As a condition of the first trade with Cincinnati, Gray has agreed to an extension that could earn him around $50 million that will stretch from 2019 through 2023. Gray was this year by the Yankees to a one-year, $7.5 million contract to avoid arbitration. His new deal will earn him $30.5 years over three-years and contains a $12 million club option for a fourth season.
The Nashville, Tennessee native struggled mightily at home in New York, pitching to a 4-4 record with a 6.98 ERA. In 15 games (11 starts), the former All-Star pitched just 59 1/3 innings while opponents hit .318 off him. He walked 35 batters in comparison to his 45 strikeouts. Away from Yankee Stadium, Gray was a different pitcher. He went 7-5 with a 1.15 WHIP and 3.17 ERA across 12 starts and three relief appearances. Opponents hit just .226 against him, and he walked a much lower 22 batters across 71 innings pitched.
The talent is there for Gray. Being traded away is the best thing that could have happened to him. Cincinnati is a perfect fit in my mind due to it being a small market, a National League team, and the fact that he is back with his old coach whom he has had a great deal of success with.
Sanmartin, 22, was initially acquired by New York from the Texas Rangers in November of 2017 in exchange for pitcher Ronald Herrera. The majority of the native of Columbia’s season came with the Charleston RiverDogs (Single-A). He started eight games and went 2-6 with a 4.19 ERA over 43 innings.
The soft-tossing lefty will most likely move to a role in the bullpen as he moves up the minor league ranks. His fastball hovers around 90 miles per hour, and his repertoire features a changeup and slider as well. To be blunt, Sanmartin had no future with the Yankees, so the organization was comfortable moving him, and rightfully so.
Long, 23, entered 2019 ranked as the seventh-best prospect by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America in a pretty good Reds farm system. Long is a bat-first prospect, whose footwork is known to be well below average. He also has and projects to have an average arm and an average fielder. The Jacksonville, Alabama native is just 5’8” but can hit for power and to all fields. The Yankees are pretty set with upper-level second basemen with most notably Thairo Estrada blocking Long from advancing to the Triple-A level.
Stowers, 21, provides much-needed quality outfield depth and does not require a valuable 40-man roster spot. Entering 2019 as a member of the Mariners, he was ranked the 10th best prospect in Seattle’s system by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America.
The Chicago, Illinois native signed with the Mariners for $1.1 million after being drafted in the second round of the 2018 June Amateur Draft out of Louisville. The 6’1″ right-handed hitting outfielder made his professional debut with the Everett AquaSox where he hit .260/.380/.410 in 58 games with 15 doubles, five home runs, and 28 RBIs. He walked 37 times and stole 20 bases in 24 attempts.
After coming to the Yankees, Stowers is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as New York’s 23rd overall prospect. MLB writes, “Stowers took off once he smoothed out his right-handed stroke and took a more direct path to the ball. He’s at his best when he tries to hit line drives to all fields, and while he isn’t a power hitter, he has enough pop to produce 12-15 homers per year as a pro. Stowers has an extremely patient approach and a knack for stealing bases.
Scouts give Stowers solid-to-plus grades for his speed, yet there’s mixed opinion on whether he can stick in center field at the next level. It’s essential that he does so to profile as a regular because he doesn’t have the power to profile on a corner. Stowers’ below-average arm will push him to left field if he can’t stay in center.”
The value of the 2019 Competitive Balance Round A draft pick can’t be understated. According to Jeff Passan, the draft pick alone is valued around $10 million by MLB organizations. Right now, the pick is number 36 overall but could become the 37th overall pick if outfielder A.J. Pollock signs a contract for at least $50 million.