Yankees asked for stud Reds prospect in Sonny Gray trade

LAS VEGAS — The Yankees continue to shoot high with Sonny Gray, despite his poor performance in 2018 and the fact GM Brian Cashman has publicly stated his plan is to trade the righty.

The Yankees asked the Reds for outfielder Taylor Trammell, whom MLB.com has ranked as the 17th-best prospect in the majors. As you would expect, Cincinnati was not interested in that conversation. Keep in mind that the Yankees could ask for a lot and then settle for considerably less and also that they could sweeten a deal for Gray by including a prospect or two.

Gray had a 4.90 ERA and fell out of the Yankees rotation. But he posted a 3.17 ERA on the road and still had a 50 percent groundball rate overall (eighth best in the majors for pitchers with at least 130 innings) and struck out nearly a batter an inning. That has left the impression that outside of New York, an acquiring team might still get a very good starter in his walk year for 2019.

The Brewers and Padres also are known to be among those interested in Gray.

The Royals signed Billy Hamilton to a one-year, $5.25 million pact, a few days after agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with Chris Owings.

These are good under-the-radar signs for a rebuilding team. Neither Hamilton nor Owings fulfilled his best projections in Cincinnati and Arizona, respectively. But both have talent. Owings was taken with the 41st-overall pick in 2009 and Hamilton with the 57th, and both made top-100 prospect lists before reaching the majors.

Hamilton has elite speed and defensive skills in center, but has never hit and reached base to fully capitalize on that speed. Owings has been a tweener — not good enough to solidify any one position or to retain regular playing time. In Kansas City both would not be yanked quickly for subpar play, and perhaps a new environment will untether yet untapped skill, giving the Royals potential chips to trade at the deadline.

This is not all that different than, for example, the rebuilding Knicks taking low-risk, potentially high-reward gambles on former top-nine picks Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh.

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