Reds hurler Sonny Gray isn’t bitter about his tenure with the Yankees, but that doesn’t mean he’s in denial about his struggles there. As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes, the 29-year-old All-Star values his time in New York precisely because of the difficulties he faced.
Gray says his experience with the Yanks was “absolutely” a positive one, even though he ended up being left off the postseason roster on the heels of a brutal regular season (4.90 ERA in 130 1/3 innings).
“I think everyone kind of knows that New York wasn’t a great fit for me, place for me, last year,” says Gray. “It just didn’t seem to work out, for whatever reason. But looking back, I wouldn’t change one thing about it.”
Quite often, parting transactions leave at least one involved party with hard feelings. Not so here. Gray facilitated the three-team deal that delivered him to Cincinnati by agreeing to a three-year extension (plus option). That contract now appears to be quite an appealing one for the Reds, who also acquired lefty Reiver Sanmartin in the deal. But it also wasn’t a bad bit of security for Gray to achieve at the time, particularly given his wavering output in two of the three preceding seasons.
On the other side of the swap, the Yanks got some nice parting gifts. Outfielder Josh Stowers came aboard when the club shipped former Reds prospect Shed Long straight to the Mariners, who have already received big-league contributions from Long. And the New York organization just used the comp pick it received from the Cincinnati club to select southpaw TJ Sikkema. (The original deal to acquire Gray from the A’s also hasn’t stung the Bronx Bombers — not yet, at least.)
Gray says he’s stronger for the difficult experience. He certainly has bounced back with aplomb, slinging 90 1/3 innings of 3.59 ERA ball with 10.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9. By most metrics, he’s much the same pitcher as before. But Gray seems to be squeezing more out of his tools, inducing much less hard contact (33.9% after surrendering 39.5% last year, per Statcast) and generating a career-high 27.8% K rate despite continuing to sport similar swinging-strike marks.