Downs, Gray sent to Dodgers in blockbuster

Reds send Nos. 7, 20 prospects to LA in Majors-heavy trade

Josiah Gray (left) and Jeter Downs both head to the Dodgers after brief stints in the Reds system. (Brian McLeod, Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | December 21, 2018 5:40 PM

A big league blockbuster had some Minor League flavor Friday.

The Reds traded No. 7 prospect Jeter Downs and 20th-ranked Josiah Gray to the Dodgers in a deal that involved five Major Leaguers. In the swap, Homer Bailey also went to Los Angeles, while Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer headed to Cincinnati. The Dodgers also sent cash -- believed to be $7 million -- to the Reds.

Downs and Gray were Collective Balance Round picks by the Reds one year apart.

"We were obviously able to gain some flexibility while also adding some young talent back into our system," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a conference call. "I'm not sure that there's any team that's traded more prospects over the last four years. So adding some back is always helpful."

Downs was taken 32nd overall in the 2017 Draft out of a Miami-area high school and just completed his first full season of pro ball. The 20-year-old middle infielder hit .257/.351/.402 with 13 homers, two triples and 23 doubles in 120 games for Class A Dayton, where he spent the entire 2018 campaign. His 37 stolen bases were the most by any Reds farmhand and tied for sixth in the Midwest League. He was an above-average hitter with a 118 wRC+ and could become more than that as he matures. Downs was drafted as a shortstop but made 72 of his 113 starts at second base last season and, with average speed, the keystone is more likely to remain his position over the long term.

Video: Dayton's Downs goes yard

Drafted 72nd overall in June out of Division II Le Moyne College, Gray took quickly to pro ball during his first Minor League summer. The 21-year-old right-hander posted the lowest ERA (2.58), WHIP (0.88) and second-lowest FIP (3.07) of the 23 pitchers to toss at least 50 innings in the Appalachian League. He fanned 59 batters and walked 17 while holding opponents to a .155 average over 52 1/3 innings with Rookie-level Greeneville. The New York native throws in the low- to mid-90s and his slider also has impressed. A former infielder, Gray was thought to be more of a project than a typical college hurler but took well enough to the pro game to allay some of those concerns.

Bailey was promptly released following the trade, which he had to approve due to his 10-and-5 rights. The 32-year-old right-hander is owed $48 million over the next two seasons but has posted an ERA above 6.00 in each of the last three years.

Puig and Kemp should take over the corner outfield spots in Cincinnati. The former has one year of arbitration left before becoming a free agent, while the latter is owed $21.5 million in the final year of the eight-year contract extension he signed with Los Angeles in November 2011. Wood slides into the top spot of the Reds rotation, coming off a season in which he posted a 3.68 ERA with 135 strikeouts and 40 walks over 151 2/3 innings for the National League champs. Like Puig, the 27-year-old left-hander has one year of arbitration left. Farmer is the most controllable player headed to Cincinnati with five years remaining. The 28-year-old catcher/infielder played 39 games with the Dodgers this season and batted .235/.312/.324 with a triple and four doubles.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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