Yankees right-hander and trade candidate Sonny Gray has been connected to the Padres, among many other teams, since the offseason began in earnest last month. The New Year is now around the corner and Gray remains a member of the Yankees, though the Padres are still “very much” involved in discussions centering on the 29-year-old, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports.
General manager Brian Cashman telegraphed that the Yankees would trade Gray this winter after the Red Sox bounced them from the playoffs in October, when he admitted it would make sense to send him elsewhere. Nevertheless, various reports have suggested the Yankees’ asking price has been too lofty for a hurler who struggled in 2018 and only has one year of control left (at a projected $9.1MM).
As MLBTR has written seemingly ad infinitum over the past couple months, Gray’s coming off a season in which he registered a horrid 4.90 ERA and a personal-worst 3.94 BB/9 across 130 1/3 innings, leading the Yankees to pull him from their rotation. However, Gray maintained his velocity and offered appealing results away from Yankee Stadium, as he posted a 3.17 ERA/2.65 FIP on the road. There is no question other teams are well aware of Gray’s success outside of the Bronx, given that double-digit clubs have shown some level of interest in him since Cashman announced he was for sale.
Based on both the road numbers he put up in last season and his productive stint in Oakland, where he pitched from 2013-17, Gray would be a much-needed upgrade for the Padres. In 2018, San Diego’s eighth straight sub-.500 season, its starters ranked 27th in the majors in ERA and 28th in fWAR. Of the 12 starters the Padres trotted out, only Joey Lucchesi enjoyed a decent amount of success over a large sample size.
As a result of the adversity their rotation experienced in 2018, the Padres have been scouring the market for help, having shown reported interest in Gray, the Indians’ Corey Kluber, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, the Mariners’ Mike Leake, and free agents Dallas Keuchel and Yusei Kikuchi. Among that group, Gray may be the most realistic target for the Padres. Acquiring Kluber, Syndergaard or Stroman would presumably force the Padres to take a sizable bite out of their top-ranked farm system; Leake, meanwhile, has a no-trade clause and still has a significant amount of guaranteed money left on his contract; and both Keuchel and Kikuchi are in line for high-paying deals.
In the event the Padres do land Gray, he could either help them return to relevance (if he rebounds) or end up as a midseason trade chip. Should San Diego fall out of the race by the summer, which has been an all-too-common occurrence in franchise history, it could further bolster its system by shipping Gray to a contender.