Sonny Gray was part of a trade deadline deal last year, and the right-hander may end up on the move again this season. Gray, whom the Yankees acquired from the Athletics last July, is generating “a bit of interest” with July 31 nearing, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. Heyman casts doubt on the Yankees shipping out Gray, though, noting that the playoff shoo-ins are more interested in adding starters than subtracting them.
The Gray experiment hasn’t worked out thus far for New York, and as a result, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Saturday that some teams believe the Yankees do want to move him. The 28-year-old Gray has been a quality mid-rotation starter for the majority of his career, but he’s now amid his second-worst season in terms of both ERA (5.34) and FIP (4.41). While Gray has managed the second-best strikeout rate of his major league tenure (8.53 K/9), he has partially offset that with a personal-worst walk rate (3.94 BB/9). He has also generated the fewest ground balls of his career (a still-respectable 47.6 percent), racked up just 96 innings in 19 starts and totaled only seven quality starts.
As poorly as Gray has pitched this year, he’s still one of the Yankees’ five best starting options right now, to which Heyman alluded. Despite their excellent record (63-34, 4 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Boston), the Yankees haven’t gotten much from any starters but Luis Severino and CC Sabathia – the latter of whom is a 38-year-old with past knee problems. One of Gray’s fellow established starters, Masahiro Tanaka, has also had difficulty preventing runs. Meanwhile, Jordan Montgomery is out for this year and at least some of 2019 on account of Tommy John surgery, rookie Domingo German hasn’t been part of the solution, and fellow first-year man Jonathan Loaisiga didn’t offer length during his first four starts before succumbing to shoulder troubles.
Given their obvious starting pitching issues, the Yankees are known to be on the hunt for rotation help in advance of the deadline. The problem is that no front-line starters appear destined to move, which could leave the Yankees to choose from uninspiring hurlers who, like Gray, bring clear flaws to the table. One such option is righty Dan Straily, whom the Yankees have spoken with the Marlins about, according to Heyman. But the teams “don’t appear to be close” to a deal, per Heyman, and Straily certainly wouldn’t represent a slam-dunk upgrade over Gray.
As a result of the weak pitching market, Gray may at least finish the season as a Yankee, and then the team will have to decide whether to retain him in 2019. Gray, who’s on a $6.5MM salary this season, is slated to go through arbitration one more time.