With the Washington Nationals in dire need of starting pitching help, turning to the New York Yankees and acquiring Sonny Gray would be a smart move.
It’s no secret anymore, the Washington Nationals are in desperate need of an upgrade in their rotation. With Sonny Gray being made openly available, acquiring him would be a shrewd move for the Nats to make.
New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman left no doubt about where he stood with Gray on Friday. He told reporters at his press conference that they would be actively shopping the right-hander this winter.
It’s pretty unusual for any executive to openly state that they want to trade a player, as they lose a lot of leverage by doing so, but even more unusual for the GM to do so. However, given the year that Gray had, it’s understandable why the Yankees want to try and offload him if possible.
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Gray is coming off a year in which he was eventually bumped from the rotation in early August after compiling a 5.56 ERA in 21 starts beforehand. Most of his struggles last season came at Yankee Stadium where he had an unsightly 6.98 ERA by season’s end compared to a reasonable 3.17 ERA, and an even better 2.65 FIP, on the road. That home/road split part of the reason why it would make sense for the Nats to pursue the starter.
The inflated home ERA could be from numerous factors, with the Yankees Stadium crowd not particularly forgiving at times, but also a reputation for being hitter-friendly. Nats Park has generally been a neutral park in recent seasons, and he also wouldn’t have the pressure of having to pitch towards the top of the rotation, he would only need to slot in as the fourth or fifth option.
In MLBTradeRumors recent arbitration projections Gray could be due $9.1 million in 2019, which would be the final year of his deal. So even if he reverts to his 2018 form, the Nats wouldn’t be on the hook for too much salary, making it a worthwhile risk to fill out their rotation.
Sonny Gray is a perfect low-cost option to help the team at the backend of the rotation with some huge upside. Given Cashman’s comments, it’s not expected that the Yankees would have a high price tag for the starter.
The Nats could either send them a mid-level prospect such as starter Luis Reyes, or you could even flip the script a bit. With the news of Didi Gregorius‘ Tommy John surgery, the Yankees could be after some extra middle infield depth. So perhaps you could send them Wilmer Difo while receiving Gray and a reliever such as Ben Heller or Jonathan Holder.
That would set the Nats rotation up to look something like the following: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, high-profile free agent/trade acquisition, Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark/Joe Ross. Having that group would put them back towards the top of the pecking order in rotation strength.
Sonny Gray could be an ideal candidate for the Washington Nationals to pursue this winter as they bid to climb back atop the NL East. As a low-cost, low-risk option, it makes a lot of sense, and hopefully, Mike Rizzo will at least explore the possibility.