New York Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray adjusts his cap as he watches a two-run home run by Minnesota Twins designated hitter Miguel Sano sail over the center field wall during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

The New York Yankees are close to reaching an agreement to trade starting pitcher Sonny Gray to the Cincinnati Reds for 23-year-old infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported Saturday:

Gray, whom the Yanks acquired in a July 2017 trade with the Oakland Athletics, is coming off a disastrous 2018 season. He posted a 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP across 30 appearances (23 starts) and was demoted to the bullpen in early August.

New York general manager Brian Cashman said after the team’s American League Division Series playoff exit against the AL East rival Boston Red Sox the starter would be available in trade talks during the offseason.

“It hasn’t worked out this far,” the GM told reporters in October. “I think he’s extremely talented. I think we’ll enter the winter open-minded to a relocation. To maximize his abilities I think it will be more likely best somewhere else.”

Although Gray started his career with the A’s in fine fashion—his highest ERA through his first three years was 3.08 in 2014—he has struggled in two of the past three seasons. Along with his 2018 woes, he finished 2016 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts for Oakland.

In late August, the 29-year-old Tennessee native asserted continued confidence in himself after 6.1 shutout innings in a spot start against the lowly Baltimore Orioles.

“If I can throw the ball like that, I think I can get anybody out. I know I can get anybody out,” he told reporters. “I’m one of the best starting pitchers in this league, and I truly believe that. I think it’s that belief that will continue to keep me moving forward and hopefully continue to have success from here on out.”

Gray has a solid overall track record. He owns a 3.66 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 789 strikeouts in 900.2 innings (7.88 K/9) across 155 games with the Yanks and A’s. He earned an All-Star selection in 2015.

Ultimately, the front office’s decision to make it clear Gray was available for trade immediately after the Yankees’ postseason elimination made his exit almost a formality. Getting a fresh start in Cincy would give him a chance to get his career back on track after a forgettable 2018.

Next season is particularity crucial for the Vanderbilt product because it’s his last year of arbitration before potentially becoming a free agent next winter.

For now, he will likely compete with Tyler Mahle for the final spot in the Reds’ rotation.

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