Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Sonny Gray is nasty, talented, is under club control until 2019, and is on a team that is out of the playoff race. With Oakland looking to rebuild, it’s likely that the 27-year old ace will be traded to jumpstart that process.
This means that you’re going to see any team that is on the fringe of the playoff race that is currently looking to improve its starting rotation is going to be mentioned in trade rumors related to the 27-year old. Because of the club control, his talent, and his age; Oakland is going to be asking for the world heading into the trade deadline to jump start its rebuild effort. And because of those demands, that means there are going to be a small number of teams that could be able to afford the A’s prospect demands.
Some of the teams that have been mentioned, but have already fallen out of contention, are the Brewers, and Mariners. The Yankees are apparently interested, but it’s hard to imagine them being able to compete with other offers considering that they’ve already traded away a lot of their rebuilt farm system; it appears that New York and Oakland aren’t anywhere close to getting a deal done at this point.
Gray has been outstanding in 2017, after a down ’16 season, as he’s currently pitching 3.66/3.38/3.41 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) while striking out 8.41 batters per nine innings, and only walking 2.77. Unlike most pitchers in the majors this season, he’s actually seeing his HR/FB drop from 2016 — but it’s still higher than his career norms.
So where will the 27-year old end up? We’ll discuss four likely landings spots and rate how likely it is he’ll be traded to those teams (on a scale of 1-10) using fire emojis.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Why it might happen: With Clayton Kershaw being expected to miss 4-6 weeks with lower back tightness, the Dodgers are suddenly on the market to improve their starting pitching. Gray’s cheap salary, and LA’s strong farm system, instantly make him a good for the Dodgers. It seems likely that general manager Farhan Zaidi will be able to outbid almost any other team that is negotiating with the A’s.
Why it won’t happen: It’s unclear if Zaidi will want to move as many prospects as will be necessary to acquire the 27-year old ace. The Dodgers rebuild went so quickly because of the depth of their farm system, and it’s nice for a franchise to keep that kind of depth available during the dog days of summer.
How likely is it: Los Angeles needs help, not depth, for its starting rotation. Losing Kershaw likely won’t cost LA the division, but it will cause problems for their bullpen and rotation as it tries to adapt to losing the workhorse ace. Gray is the most immediate fit, and the Dodgers are one of the few franchises that will actually be able to meet Oakland’s asking price.
Why it might happen: Houston is another team that could benefit by adding a starting pitcher; unlike most other teams, however, the Astros do have the depth in their farm system to pull off a trade for Gray. The 27-year old ace will come with little financial cost, and will immediately bolster their rotation; the fact that he’s under club control until 2019 could help propel the Astros for the next couple of seasons as well. Another reason that this could happen is that A’s general manager Billy Beane is not opposed to trading within his division, unlike most other GMs in the game.
Why it won’t happen: The Astros don’t need another starting pitcher the way that LA — or some of the other teams that are rumored to be interested in Gray do — so it would be surprising to see them really make a move that could send most of their top prospects to a division rival.
How likely is it: The Astros are an intriguing potential partner for Oakland in the Sonny Gray sweepstakes. But it seems unlikely that they’ll want to put together a package to outbid the Dodgers.
Boston Red Sox
Why it might happen: The Red Sox are another team with fringe starting pitching that could benefit from bringing Gray on board this season; his cheap contract and two remaining years of team control would also make him a good fit for the aging Sox.
Why it won’t happen: While Boston has a decent farm system, it’s no where as loaded as it was a couple of years ago — lots of these players are in the majors already. It’s hard to see the Red Sox being able compete with Houston, let alone the Dodgers, in the prospect package they’ll be able to put together.
How likely is it: While Boston is interested, it would be a shock if they managed to trade for Gray.
Why it might happen: Like the Dodgers, Washington suddenly has injury concerns regarding their ace. Stephen Strasburg also left his start early this past weekend and the Nationals are suddenly looking to improve their starting rotation depth. The Nats’ farm system is pretty well stocked, which means that they potentially have the pieces to pull of a deal with Oakland.
Why it won’t happen: While Washington’s farm system is in good shape, it’s just not deep enough to compete with the Astros or Dodgers. Also, Strasburg’s injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as Kershaw’s (at this time) which means the Nationals don’t have the need that other teams do.
How likely is it: The need for another starter isn’t nearly as bad in D.C. as it is in Southern California, despite the talented farm system. It doesn’t seem like the Nationals would be willing to sacrifice the long term health of the franchise to try and outbid other teams that will negotiating with Oakland.
The Dodgers are the frontrunner to acquire Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics. Los Angeles’ has a lot of pressure to bring an end to its World Series drought, and potentially begin a dynasty with the core that is in place now. It’s going to be nearly impossible for other teams to compete with the package that LA will be able to put together in working with the Athletics.