Yankees trading for Sonny Gray was still a gamble worth taking
The Yankees have a tough decision to make. Do they trade for a veteran starting pitcher on the downside of his career that won’t cost a ton of prospects or instead, go all out for a frontline ace? Sonny Gray fell somewhere in the middle.
When the Yankees traded for Sonny Gray last July 31, the three top 10 prospects they sent to Oakland was a steep price but looked to be a worthwhile gamble for the then 27-year-old.
Despite some injuries during his tenure with the A’s, Gray was their undisputed ace, going 44-36 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.200 WHIP and 607:225 K:BB ratio in 705 innings pitched.
On paper, Gray had many of the attributes that a pitcher would need to succeed under the bright lights and media scrutiny that comes with playing in New York.
Unfortunately, pitching for a club with World Series aspirations hasn’t been an easy transition for the former 2015 AL All-Star.
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In 27 starts for the Yankees, Gray is an underwhelming 9-13 with a 4.68 ERA, 1.399 WHIP and 132:63 K:BB ratio in 148 innings. Though he has at times shown signs of what made him productive for parts of five seasons in Northern California, the Yanks and their fans want more.
The thing is perhaps, this inconsistent version of Gray is all we’re going to get. We’re upset because the Yankees traded away Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo. But only Fowler is showing any signs of being a legit major leaguer at this point.
As high as I was on Fowler, as potentially being the Yankees center fielder of the future, the outfield is one area the organization is flush with talent.
In regards to Kapreilian, sadly, he hasn’t thrown a single pitch this season as he continues to recover from April ’17s Tommy John surgery — and Mateo has reverted to the no power, low-OBP guy the Yanks had before he broke out in 2017.
The thing with Gray is that he’ll enter his final year of arbitration this winter. Making $6.5 million this season, we shouldn’t expect much of an increase for 2019 before he hits the open market the following year at the age of 30.
However, he’ll definitely need to find lightning in a bottle if he wants to avoid becoming another journeyman tale of what could have been. And that motivating factor is a good thing for his current employer.
Looking at it objectively, while Gray hasn’t lived up the massive expectations bestowed upon him, the gamble Cashman took wasn’t an Earth-shattering one. Sure, Cash could have traded for Justin Verlander, but he didn’t want to give the Tigers even higher-ceiling prospects or take on Verlander’s $28 million AAV through ’19.
Not trading for Verlander changed the course of history for both the Astros and Yanks. And who knows, if Cash did pull the trigger maybe Championship No. 28 would already be in the bag.
Alas, we need to focus on what’s ahead and not behind.
If you honestly think Sonny Gray is headed to the bullpen, the DFA machine or traded away when his value is at an all-time low, it’s time to get a clue. The only place you’re going to see Gray is on the bump every five days for Yankees.
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While he may no longer be a No. 2 or No. 3 in pinstripes, he still holds some sort of value on a Yankees staff that is often all or nothing.
I implore you not to root against Gray because until otherwise notified, he’s still a Yankee, and we need him to pitch well if this team is to have much of a chance of advancing to the Postseason and beyond.