Trading for Sonny Gray (or a similar controllable starter)
Despite the denials of GM Brian Cashman during his end of season press conference back in October, I could definitely see the Yankees making a big move for a controllable starting pitcher during the Winter Meetings, just maybe not one who would cost the entire farm like Chris Sale.
Sonny Gray is my pick kind of by default. It’s been reported already that Oakland is willing to listen on him and their other veterans because they don’t see themselves as contenders next year.
Presumably, the 27-year-old right-hander would come at a significant discount after putting up a 5.69 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 117 IP (22 GS) in 2016. The obvious explanation for his struggles were the two muscle strains in his pitching arm that required him to miss much of May, August, and September.
Gray had been one of the most exciting and dominant young starting pitchers in baseball the previous three seasons, pitching to a 2.88 ERA and 3.36 through the first 491 innings of his career (74 GS). He made his first All-Star squad and finished third in the AL CYA voting in 2015 before completely falling off a cliff last year.
The problem with acquiring Gray is that because of his youth, three years of team control remaining, and extensive resume, Oakland can price him (almost) as if he is still an ace despite his ugly numbers in 2016.
If that difference proves too difficult to work out, I fully expect to see Cashman net another solid number two or three starter with multiple years of control this offseason, most likely during the frenetic action of the Meetings.
Other names I’ve thrown out since the end of the season in our “Offseason Trade Target” series include Carlos Rodon, Sean Manaea, Jon Gray, Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, Tyson Ross, Matt Shoemaker, and Gio Gonzalez.
There have been indications that all of those guys are available to varying degrees, and the majority would provide the Yankees with a significant rotation upgrade in 2017 and beyond.