The A’s announced that right-hander Sonny Gray has been activated from the disabled list on Monday. Per John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter link), Gray will start Tuesday’s game against the Twins. To clear space for Gray on the active roster, outfielder Ryan LaMarre has been optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
The 27-year-old Gray will take the hill for Oakland for the first time this season with tomorrow’s outing. The 2015 Cy Young candidate was sidelined early in Spring Training by a lat strain that required a three-week shutdown from throwing, and he’s since been building strength back up on a minor league rehab assignment. To say that Gray looked sharp in the minors would be an understatement; in 11 innings between Class-A Advanced Stockton and Triple-A Nashville, Gray racked up 13 strikeouts and allowed only three hits without issuing a walk or yielding a run.
That’s a small sample of work against vastly inferior competition, of course, but the results are encouraging for Gray as he looks to put behind a terrible 2016 season behind him. Last year, Gray was slowed by a strained trapezius muscle and a strained forearm, which led to a pair of separate DL stints and limited him to 117 rather ugly innings. Gray’s ERA soared from 2.73 in 2015 to 5.69 in 2016, and he saw increases in hits per nine (7.2 to 10.2), walks per nine (2.6 to 3.2) and home runs per nine (0.7 to 1.4) as well.
The A’s are off to an 11-14 start to the season, which already has them five games back from the division-leading Astros. While Oakland isn’t likely to make any sort of determination about its course of action this summer on May 1, if the team doesn’t climb back into contention, a healthy Gray would once again be one of the most-discussed trade chips in the game as the non-waiver deadline approaches. Gray is earning a reasonable $3.575MM salary in 2017 after avoiding arbitration in the offseason, and he’s controlled via that arbitration process through the end of the 2019 season.