The New York Yankees have announced that Sonny Gray is for sale, but is he a fit for the San Diego Padres?
Let’s fire up the rumor mill, shall we? In his end of season press conference, after an exhilarating series against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman let the league know that starting pitcher Sonny Gray will be available this offseason. So, should the San Diego Padres pursue the 28-year old former first-round pick?
I already know how the vast majority of Padres fans will answer that question, with a resounding no. At first glance, that may seem like the correct answer. The Padres currently have Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer in the rotation and while both rookies are far from refined, they have both showed great promise in holding down the back end of the rotation of a competing San Diego Padres team.
Next season will be a continued evaluation period with starting pitchers, including Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen, Chris Paddack, Jacob Nix, Robbie Erlin, Matt Strahm, and more in line to battle for a rotation spot or make appearances at some point in 2019.
Don’t forget, San Diego will also (at the moment) have Clayton Richard and Bryan Mitchell returning next season. The organization is extremely high on Richard, the 2018 Opening Day starter, as someone capable of leading a staff off the field and Mitchell might have saved his roster spot for next year after his final start of 2018. Fans can debate both of these names all they want, however, the front office isn’t ready to give up on either.
Back to Sonny Gray and his potential fit with the San Diego Padres.
Back to the original question, should the Padres pursue Sonny Gray? AJ Preller has plenty of pieces on the farm to swing a trade for just about anyone he wants and needs to start unloading some of these guys this year. However, don’t expect the Yankees to lower the price on Gray, despite openly stating that he has no future with the Evil Empire. He still brings with him valuable team control.
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Gray isn’t a front-line starter that will lead the Padres to winning seasons and should not be pursued as one. However, he could be a gamble the Padres take a chance on.
In his five seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Gray went 44-36 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and gave up 0.8 HR/9 innings. In a season and a half with the Yankees, Gray went 15-16 with a 1.42 WHIP and gave up 1.1 HR/9 innings. The Yankees made him stay away from using his fastball (used just 35% of the time, compared to his usual 55-60% usage).
If Gray can return to his Oakland form with a new franchise, he could then be flipped at the 2019 trade deadline to a contending team in need of a starting pitcher (just not an AL East team). However, there are a lot of “what-ifs” and “if only’s” associated with this potential project.
Should that new franchise be the San Diego Padres? For the right price, take a flyer on him. His 1.7 fWAR in 2018 would have sat atop the Padres’ leaderboard. He would be a better veteran presence than anyone on the current roster and there is the possibility of him having a successful year out west, allowing Preller to flip him at the deadline for a higher value.
The Padres need starting pitching and the upcoming free agent market appears to be pretty thin at the position. However, after the Bryan Mitchell experiment, it’s understandable why trading for any Yankees’ pitcher would be met with high skeptiscism from Padres fans.