Days after Brian Cashman hinted that the Yankees might hang on to Sonny Gray, trade rumors began to circulate around the right-hander. According to Jon Heyman, the Reds maintain interest in Gray, while the Yankees have their eyes set on Cincinnati’s upper-level pitching prospects. Heyman identified right-handers Tony Santillan, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Keury Mella as some of New York’s targets.
Santillan, 21, split his time between High-A and Double-A in 2018, pitching to a 3.08 ERA (3.69 FIP) over 149 innings. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the Reds’ number five prospect, and provided glowing remarks on his stuff:
“Santillan’s plus plus fastball will touch the upper-90s consistently with good movement and will always be his best pitch. The right-hander made huge strides with his changeup in 2017 to the point where it now looks like it will be an above-average pitch. His focus on his changeup did lead to him losing some usage of his slider, though the hard breaking ball still flashes plus.”
Gutierrez, 23, logged 147 innings in Double-A last year. His results weren’t eye-popping, as he pitched to a 4.35 ERA with a 4.09 FIP. He did have a strong strikeout rate (8.8 K/9), so that’s encouraging. He graded out as the Reds’ number eight prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
Mella, meanwhile, split his time between Double-A and Triple-A, logging a 3.00 ERA with a 3.82 FIP. He earned a cup of coffee in August, although that did not go well for the 25-year-old. He pitched 9.1 innings across four games, surrendering nine runs in the process. That included serving up four home runs. Mella, the team’s number 11 prospect, may have a future in the bullpen. His stuff — a high-90s fastball and dynamite breaking ball — fits what the Yankees love in a reliever, too.
When the Yankees indicated that they could keep Gray, they did so with CC Sabathia’s health in mind. Now that he received the green light to move forward, it could be an all-clear sign for the Bombers to move the right-hander. While they previously aimed for one of Cincinnati’s top prospects in Taylor Trammell, any one of those pitchers would be a solid haul.