The 2018 season was a disaster for Sonny Gray. He struggled right out of the gates—especially when pitching at home—and was never able to right the ship. It became so bad that you could almost count on the Yankees losing when he took the mound. Then Gray experience bottomed out on August 1st when he gave up seven earned runs to the Manny Machado-less Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees were left with no choice but to banish him to the bullpen.
In the months since the season ended, Brian Cashman has been weirdly vocal about his desire to trade Gray. At the GM Meetings, he said the following to the media: “We are going to move him if we get the right deal because I don’t think it is going to work out in The Bronx. I don’t feel like we can go through the same exercise and expect different results.” It isn’t very often that you hear Cashman reveal his plans to move a certain player, or go so far as to say that he doesn’t think a player can succeed with the Yankees.
Well, the Winter Meetings have come and gone and Gray is still a Yankee. Cashman said that as many as 11 teams have shown interest in the right-hander. Nothing has worked out so far though, and that could be because Cashman’s asking price is said to be sky high. He reportedly asked the Reds for Taylor Trammell, who is currently ranked the 17th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Unsurprisingly, Cincinnati wouldn’t entertain that idea.
Here’s a slightly less ridiculous idea: What if the Yankees keep Gray? I know that he was awful — I somehow recapped half of his losses — and I was ready to drive him to any interested team’s stadium myself. However, after the way the Bombers’ offseason has unfolded so far, there is definitely a case for hanging onto him. Just hear me out.
First and foremost, Gray is still under team control, and therefore a cheaper option than any of the remaining free agent starting pitchers. He probably has higher upside, too. Remember that he’s only a year removed from a 122 ERA+ season. There is also the fact that he actually pitched quite well on the road. In 2018, Gray posted a 3.17 ERA and held opponents to a .223 batting average across 71 innings pitched away from Yankee Stadium. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility to imagine the Yankees giving him spot starts on the road, and otherwise letting him serve as the long man out of the bullpen.
It is inevitable that the Bombers will need more than just the five starters currently in the rotation to get through the season, and they already have an inexpensive option on the team. Obviously, if the Yankees can work a trade for a better pitcher, they should do that. In terms of spending money on a free agent though, it might make more sense to just keep Gray and see if he can bounce back. If he doesn’t show any improvement, Cashman could proceed with his current plan and flip him before the trade deadline.
Are you over the Gray experience or do you think the Yankees should give him another shot?