Former A’s starter Sonny Gray know about Reds’ history and ballpark

CINCINNATI — Sonny Gray knows what he’s getting into even before he arrives in Cincinnati.

His father tried out for the Reds and failed to make the cut, but remained a huge fan. Gray attended his first major-league game at Great American Ball Park, and he knows about the town’s affinity for a unique style of chili.

The former A’s starter also knows that Great American it is a home run park akin to Yankee Stadium, where he struggled mightily last season. Gray agreed to a trade from the Yankees, anyway, along with a contract extension that could keep him in Cincinnati for the next four years.

“The relationships just felt right,” Gray said during a conference call Tuesday.

The Reds made their third offseason move to upgrade their rotation Monday, sending infield prospect Shed Long and a high pick in this year’s amateur draft to the Yankees in exchange for Gray, 29, and left-hander Reiver Sanmartin.

Gray, who was eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, agreed to a deal with the Reds adding $30.5 million from 2020 through ’22., The contract includes a club option for 2023.

New York got Gray from the A’s in July 2017, but Gray’s relationship didn’t quite work. He was dropped from the rotation in August and finished 15-16 with a 4.52 ERA overall for New York.

He felt comfortable joining the Reds in part because he’ll be reunited with pitching coach Derek Johnson, who was his coach at Vanderbilt. Plus, Gray was encouraged that the Reds, after four straight seasons with at least 94 losses, also traded for starters Tanner Roark and Alex Wood.

Gray’s long bond with the Reds also contributed to his decision. His father, Jesse, was a Reds fan growing up in Tennessee and tried out for their farm system but wasn’t chosen.

He now gets to pitch for the favorite team of Jesse Gray, who died in a highway accident during Sonny Gray’s freshman year in high school.

“So I know he’s looking down with the biggest smile on his face right now,” Gray said.

Joe Kay is an Associated Press writer.

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