Athletics

A's trade Sonny Gray to Yankees

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USATI

A's trade Sonny Gray to Yankees

OAKLAND — The A’s turned rumor into reality Monday by dealing staff ace Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees just an hour or so before the non-waiver trade deadline.

In return, the A’s received three of the Yankees’ top-rated prospects — infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo, right-hander James Kaprielian and outfielder Dustin Fowler. It’s a highly regarded trio but a risky return package in that Kaprielian is out for this season recovering from Tommy John surgery and Fowler suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.

Thus ends the speculation on where the trade deadline’s most talked about pitcher would end up. The only question for the A’s was whether to move their top trade chip now or wait until the offseason, when Gray still would have had value.

Gray is just the latest marquee name to be shipped out of Oakland in recent years, as the A’s appear destined for a third consecutive last-place finish that has once again left them in summer “sell” mode.

Earlier this month, they dealt relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals. Last season saw them deal starter Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick at the deadline. And in 2015 it was starter Scott Kazmir, reliever Tyler Clippard and utility man Ben Zobrist who were traded away for prospects.

The concept of dealing Gray, a 2015 Cy Young finalist, has been speculated going back multiple years. The A’s decided to pull the trigger because the 27-year-old has rebounded with a strong season after a poor 2016 campaign. That — combined with the fact he’s under team control for the next two seasons, keeping him quite affordable — made him very attractive to many contending teams who have been on the hunt for starting pitching.

The A’s have built up the starting pitching depth throughout their organization via the draft and the trades of the past two seasons. That’s one reason they felt secure in dealing Gray, who is 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts.

Had they waited until the winter to trade him, they potentially still could have gotten a haul in return. But they also risked a second-half dip in his performance or an injury that would have dented that value. Gray has spent substantial time on the disabled list each of the past two seasons.

But this deal ultimately will be judged on how these prospects the A’s received in return eventually pan out. Mateo, 22, was the Yankees’ No. 4 prospect by Baseball America opening the season. He was at Double-A and batting a combined.258 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 39 stolen bases in 99 games split between Single-A and Double-A. Center field is said to perhaps be his best position, and he has elite speed. Worth noting: Mateo was suspended last season reportedly for lashing out at Yankee officials over a promotion that didn’t come his way.

Kaprielian, 23, underwent Tommy John surgery in April. He was the 16th overall draft pick in 2015 and was ranked the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect. Fowler, 22, was their No. 10 prospect. He suffered a devastating right knee injury in the first inning of his major league debut earlier this month, rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee. He’s out for the season, but when healthy is considered a five-tool prospect.

The departure of Gray, in particular, will be a tough pill for A’s fans to swallow from the standpoint that he’s the third “Face Of The Franchise”-type player the A’s have cut ties with this season, along with Doolittle and catcher Stephen Vogt, who was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by Milwaukee.

As the 1 p.m. trade deadline hit, there was no sign of the A's trading first baseman Yonder Alonso or any other veterans.

A's slammed in loss to red-hot Red Sox

A's slammed in loss to red-hot Red Sox

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a three-run homer and the streaking Boston Red Sox won their eighth in a row, beating the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Friday night.

Boston kept up the best start in the franchise's 118-year history, improving to a major league-leading 17-2. They've won 17 of 18 since losing to Tampa Bay on opening day.

Hundreds of Boston fans decked in red showed up at the Oakland Coliseum. They saw Moreland hit the fifth grand slam by the Red Sox this season - they didn't hit any last year.

Eduardo Nunez had three hits and scored while Hanley Ramirez singled twice for the Red Sox.

Jed Lowrie matched his career high with four hits for Oakland. Lowrie, who doubled in a run in the first, leads the majors in hits (32) and RBIs (22). The A's had won four in a row.

Moreland homered on the first pitch from reliever Emilio Pagan in the sixth. Mookie BettsAndrew Benintendi and Ramirez opened the inning with three consecutive singles off starter Kendall Graveman (0-4) before Moreland's towering shot to right.

This is the first time the Red Sox have hit five slams before May 1.

Bradley homered off Graveman in the second inning, his second in four games.

The power surge came by the Red Sox was timely on a night when starter Drew Pomeranz failed to make it out of the fourth inning in his season debut. Activated off the disabled list earlier in the day after recovering from a strained forearm, the left-hander struck out seven but allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Hector Velazquez (3-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win. Boston also got a lift from Matt Barnes, who retired four batters and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Joyce with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: J.D. Martinez was given a planned day off. Martinez has been Boston's hottest hitter over the past two weeks while going 13 for 22 (.591) with four home runs...LHP Bobby Poyner will make at least one more rehab start before the team decides whether or not to activate him off the DL. Poyner has been out since April 12 with a strained left hamstring. . RHP Marcus Walden was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Pomeranz.

Athletics: RHPs Chris Bassitt and Josh Lucas were recalled from Triple-A Nashville. LHP Daniel Coulombe was optioned down.

UP NEXT

Boston's Chris Sale (1-0, 1.23 ERA) faces Sean Manaea (2-2, 1.63 ERA) in matchup of lefties at the Coliseum on Saturday. Sale has yielded three runs and struck out 31 over 22 innings this season. Manaea has been Oakland's most consistent pitcher, allowing two or fewer runs in each of his four starts.

Mr. Professional: A's Jed Lowrie playing best baseball of his career at 34 years old

Mr. Professional: A's Jed Lowrie playing best baseball of his career at 34 years old

Jed Lowrie has delivered some productive seasons throughout his 11-year Major League Baseball career, but nothing quite like this.

Through 19 games, the A's second baseman leads all of baseball with 28 hits and 21 runs batted in. His six home runs are tied for the American League lead, while his 49 total bases rank second and his .346 batting average is fifth.

In an extremely small sample size, the former Stanford star is on pace to hit 51 home runs and drive in 179 runs, at the age of 34. To put that in perspective, Lowrie's career highs in those categories are 16 and 75, respectively.

"It's all about the work for me, the routine," he explained. "I think the results speak for themselves. But I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on my work in the cage and what I do to prepare for the games."

"He's playing the best baseball of his entire career," A's manager Bob Melvin marveled. "He's as professional a hitter as anybody in the league. He has been absolutely terrific."

Lowrie has been on an absolute tear the last two weeks. Over his last 11 games, he is batting .367, with six home runs and 16 RBI.

"He's got a great awareness what his strengths and weaknesses are," Melvin said. "Through experience, he knows what pitchers are going to try to do to him. Throughout the course of the game, he understands the adjustments that are going to be made. He has a focus now probably better than any point in his career, and the numbers would suggest that as well."

Lowrie believes the turning point of his career came two offseasons ago, and ironically, it had nothing to do with baseball. For years, he couldn't figure out why he would wake up still feeling tired, despite sleeping more than eight hours a night.

It turned out Lowrie had a deviated septum, suffered several years earlier when he was hit in the nose by a baseball. After consulting with an ear, nose, and throat specialist, he had surgery to repair the septum.

"I think it helped a lot," Lowrie said. "I just assumed I wasn't waking up refreshed because of the season. Come to find out my airway was very restricted and my sleep quality was not very good. So while I was sleeping eight or nine hours a night, I was still waking up not feeling refreshed, like I hadn't even gone to sleep. After nine years of having a deviated septum, that's going to be something that takes time, but I can already see the results from it."

"From that point on, he seemed like a different guy,” added Melvin. “He's allowed to work a little bit harder because he's getting some rest."

Last season following the surgery, Lowrie set an Oakland A's record with 49 doubles, while leading the team with a .277 batting average. The A's picked up his $6 million option for this year, which has turned out to be quite a bargain.

If Lowrie continues at his current pace, or even anywhere near it, he'll soon be able to add another achievement to his baseball resume: MLB All-Star.