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Yankees trade for Sonny Gray: How it affects the roster

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The playoffs are coming.

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Yankees finally got their man, and it cost less than you might have expected. After a back and forth that went on for days through the media, the Yankees and Athletics finally agreed on a trade that would send Sonny Gray to New York in exchange for Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, and James Kaprielian. We know the players, but what does it mean for the team?

In terms of roster impact, the Yankees were able to make this deal without giving away anyone who was going to make an immediate impact at the major league level. Initially, Billy Beane showed interest in the likes of Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, but Brian Cashman was able to talk him down.

Jorge Mateo has a lot of potential, but at the end of the day, his status as a middle infielder made him redundant with the success of Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro, and the arrival of the superior Torres. Other guys like Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada remain in the system to offer enough depth where the loss of Mateo won’t be very painful. I mean, he was being transitioned to center field just to get playing time.

Dustin Fowler has promise to be a solid center fielder, but his recent knee injury and the current outfield depth made him easily tradable. There just wasn’t going to be room for him. While the Yankees could have used James Kaprielian, he just underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out for awhile. Who knows if he ever comes back to what he once was.

As for the major league roster, the Yankees don’t have a spot for Gray to simply slide into. Jaime Garcia will remain in the rotation but Joe Girardi has already mentioned that they will not embrace a six man rotation. What this means is someone will being giving up their spot.

The easy answer is that Sonny Gray will replace Jordan Montgomery in the starting rotation. After early success, Montgomery has fallen off quite a bit in the month of July, suffering a 5.90 ERA. The 24-year-old left-hander is already at 110 innings, and considering he hasn’t thrown more than 139 innings in his professional career, it’s safe to say he’s suffering from some fatigue.

Whether Monty is placed in the bullpen or is sent down to Triple-A is yet to be seen, but either way, he’s already done his job. Even if this is it for him, his season should be commended. Montgomery has certainly earned a rotation spot come next season.

The Yankees will have Sonny Gray under team control until after the 2019 season, meaning he will be in the Bronx for two additional years. As an arbitration eligible player, he offers no real burden on the payroll going forward. He earned $3,575,000 in his first go through the process and should be affordable in the future, especially with money coming off the books this offseason.

Now that Cashman has properly reinforced his starting rotation, the Yankees are well positioned for a playoff run. They remain in first place over the Red Sox but have significantly improved in the last two days while Boston hasn’t done much. The offense is as strong as it has been, despite several players still missing time with injury. If Greg Bird can return in the next few weeks, they have a chance at turning first base back into a strength.

Together with a bullpen that includes four closers, Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia will reinforce any weaknesses this team has. Gray specifically sets them up with another top of the rotation arm for a deep run in the playoffs.