Sonny With a Chance of… Relocation?
Yankees GM alludes to RHP Sonny Gray being put on the trading block this offseason.
A lot has changed in the past 365 days: The Yankees were getting ready for their ALCS matchup with the Houston Astros, Joe Girardi was manager, and the dueling rookie phenoms of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar had yet to make their permanent mark on the MLB scene. But one thing that has seemed to get lost in all of the changes surrounding the Bronx Bombers was that they had high hopes for the next couple of seasons and beyond from recently-acquired right-hander, Sonny Gray.
The Yankees shocked the baseball world on July 31 of 2017 by snagging Gray from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for three prospects. A move that, at the time, was heralded as a another brilliant acquisition by Brian Cashman — who had already traded for Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and re-acquiring David Robertson as a part of a mega-deal with the Chicago White Sox.
Gray wasn’t great in his eleven starts in Pinstripes in 2017 — going 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 65.1 IP, but it was enough for people around the Yankees organization to be optimistic about what they could get out of the soon-to-be 28-year-old righty in the future.
However, those feelings of optimism turned out to be blind; as Gray did anything but impress in 2018. In 23 starts, he was 9-9 with a 5.26 ERA (4-4 with a 6.98 at home), which caused him to be demoted to the bullpen — which he performed well in, going 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 17 innings.
But it wasn’t good enough to land him on the Wild Card roster, or the ALDS roster in the 2018 postseason; thus leaving his future in the Bronx in serious jeopardy.
In his end-of-season press conference on Friday, GM Brian Cashman said that the Yankees will move into the offseason with “an open mind to a relocation.”
As far as a good match for Sonny Gray and a good trade partner for the Yankees are concerned? The first team to come to mind would be the Atlanta Braves, who burst onto the scene ahead of schedule; winning the NL East and making the postseason for the first time since 2013 before getting bounced by the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games.
In the most recent update of the MLB’s farm system rankings on Bleacher Report, the Atlanta Braves have the MLB’s second-best farm system — headlined by 3B Austin Riley, RHP Mike Soroka, and RHP Ian Anderson. While Sonny Gray’s performance wouldn’t necessarily lead to the Yankees acquiring these highly-touted prospects, the Braves limped into the postseason with a pitching staff led by 34-year-old Anibal Sanchez. While Mike Foltynewicz had a breakout season for the Braves this year, posting a career-best 2.85 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.082 WHIP and a 9.9 K/9, his postseason inexperience was on full display during the NLDS – allowing five earned through just six innings pitched.
The Braves’ ahead-of-schedule emergence has put them into an almost “win now” position; and with the surplus of young talent, they could be looking to unload some of that surplus to acquire a more proven commodity.
The Yankees have three vacant rotation spots as they prepare for the offseason, with Happ and Lynn being amongst those hitting free agency. With Sonny Gray and his questionable track record at Yankee Stadium, and Brian Cashman’s comments on moving him, it appears the Vanderbilt product will be sporting a new jersey on Opening Day 2019.