The Padres are among the clubs with interest in Reds right-hander Sonny Gray, Fansided’s Robert Murray reports, although there’s no indication that the two sides have engaged in meaningful discussions to this point.
Gray’s name has persistently popped up in the rumor mill this winter, and while Cincinnati GM Nick Krall has sought to downplay Gray chatter as a matter of performing due diligence, it’s hard not to place some extra stock in the Gray rumblings amid the backdrop of several cost-cutting moves out of Cincinnati. The Reds surprisingly non-tendered right-hander Archie Bradley just months after acquiring him in a deadline trade, despite the fact that he pitched well for them and was due a raise on a team-friendly $4.1MM salary. They also cut loose their other primary deadline pickup, outfielder Brian Goodwin, and catcher Curt Casali. Goodwin had struggled in Cincinnati, but Casali turned in a solid 2020 season.
Perhaps most surprising was the trade that sent closer Raisel Iglesias to the Angels in exchange for righty Noe Ramirez and minor league infielder Leo Rivas. It was a marginal return, at best, on a quality late-inning reliever whose $9.125MM salary isn’t exactly exorbitant. Following both the Bradley non-tender and the Iglesias trade, Krall has spoken of reallocating those resources. He did so again this week in an appearance on MLB Network’s MLB Now (video link):
“I think we’ve done some things to reallocate our resources within the organization, and we’re just trying to figure out what’s the best thing we can do for our organization moving forward,” said Krall.
Some Reds fans may hope to see the team utilize those savings for a run at retaining Trevor Bauer, but that may not be likely. In that MLB Now spot, Krall discussed “adding pitching depth, whether it’s rotation depth with the loss of Trevor Bauer.” MLB Network’s Jon Heyman added further context today, tweeting that the Reds consider Bauer to be beyond their price range and adding that Bauer “will be pitching elsewhere” in 2021. It obviously takes just one change of heart from ownership to push for a deal to come together, but that’s a rather bleak characterization of where things stand with regard to their chances of retaining the reigning NL Cy Young winner.
Turning back to Gray, the match between the Reds and Padres is a sensible one on paper but perhaps not so much in practice. The Friars thought they were acquiring multiple years of a high-end rotation option when picking up Mike Clevinger prior to the trade deadline, but he’s now sidelined for all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.
That leaves a hole at the top of the rotation, but Murray suggests that even Gray’s $10MM salary might be outside San Diego’s comfort zone at this point. Surely, that’s all the more true given that they’d have to trade away considerable young talent to pry Gray away; even if the Reds are seeking to cut costs, it’s hard to imagine them taking a weak return on Gray when the market for starting pitching has generally been a healthy one to this point.
The Padres already owe $86.05MM to the combination of Manny Machado, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Drew Pomeranz, Craig Stammen, Pierce Johnson, Matt Strahm and Clevinger. They still owe arbitration raises to Tommy Pham, Zach Davies, Dinelson Lamet, Emilio Pagan and Dan Altavilla.
For a Padres club intent on paring back last year’s $150MM payroll to some extent, taking on $10MM in salary might not work unless other payroll can be jettisoned elsewhere. And as Murray points out, there would probably be questions about reuniting Gray with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who coached Gray during an unsuccessful tenure in the Bronx.