The San Francisco Giants Should Take A Chance At Sonny Gray
New York Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, said this week that he thinks Sonny Gray’s future is not at their ballclub. The San Francisco Giants should absolutely jump at this opportunity.
You can never have enough starting pitching. The San Francisco Giants will for sure be without Johnny Cueto for all of 2019, and there is no telling what will happen with Jeff Samardzija next year. And as much as Shaun Anderson has impressed, you can’t rely on prospects who aren’t even in the Top 100 to be a “sure thing” without any sort of Major League success in tow. Insert Sonny Gray.
I know Sonny Gray wasn’t good with the Yankees last year. But in reality, he wasn’t terrible. The national outlets, and most of the New York media would have you believe that he was Matt Moore bad. That he was not.
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Sonny Gray’s 4.90 ERA would’ve been fifth on the Giants, better than only Chris Stratton. With Derek Holland‘s return up in the air, and question marks still surrounding the legitimacy of some of the prospect starters that debuted last season. Yes, Dereck Rodriguez is a for sure fixture in the rotation next year, and there is a chance that Andrew Suarez is too. But with Bumgarner, that leaves about 3 sure things, and two open spots left.
Let’s be real, Gray’s ceiling is higher than every single pitcher on that roster not named Madison Bumgarner. Last year he had “such a bad year” that the Yankees would want to jettison him, yet his peripherals were fine outside of opponent’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and then his runs after the fact.
When you take someone from the AL West, to the little league size ballparks that are within the AL East, you shouldn’t be shocked that those two things went up. He had a similar walk rate, better strikeout rate, and better HR rate than the previous season where he posted a 3.55.
Reuniting Curt Young and Sonny Gray would be extremely beneficial for both him and the Giants. Gray in AT&T Park would help a whole lot of the BABIP numbers and such, and you could definitely expect his ERA to lower. The question is, could Curt Young help turn Gray back into an ace? Let’s examine the financial and contractual risk though:
Sonny Gray is under contract only for 2019. That’s it. It’s a one year experiment that wouldn’t cost the Giants long term. If he works out they could try and re-sign him. But if it doesn’t, you’re not stuck with him beyond next season. So what does he cost in the trade market?
Well, Joe Panik has sort of fell into the same category for the Giants. Clearly, they’d have to find a legitimate replacement for Panik next season if he is traded, but it could be the most likely trade partner for the Yankees. It’s a cheaper bandaid for their situation than Machado, and frankly, Machado is losing his luster here.
I’m not the only person who thinks Panik might be the best trade bait for Gray. Many of the Giants beat writers have suggested it, as well as our friends over at Yanks Go Yard. Mike Calendrillo, a Site Expert of Yanks Go Yard (Yankees’ FanSided Website) told us this when asked about what could be the best trade for both sides:
"With Didi Gregorius set to miss a good chunk of 2019 following his Tommy John diagnosis, if the Yankees choose not to pursue free agent Manny Machado to play shortstop, the Yanks could shift over Gleyber Torres, and then look to swap Sonny Gray for an infielder like St. John’s alum Joe Panik. Not sure which club, if either would require more in a potential deal but it’s could be the start to dialogue."
So then comes the question of, “How do you replace Panik?” Well!
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Here are some free agent options available this offseason:
- Jed Lowrie
- Asdrubal Cabrera
- D.J. LaMahieu
- Daniel Murphy
All could be available on some bandaid type contracts (two or three years). But there is one interesting option via trade: Starlin Castro
Yes. Castro is one of the larger contracts still on the Marlins’ budget that they so desperately want to shrink even smaller than it now is. Castro is only owed $11 million dollars next year, and his contract holds a team option for 2020 at $16 million dollars, but the Giants could buy him out of that option for the price of a cool $1 million dollars.
Yes, this move total (Gray and Castro) could cost the Giants close to $20 million dollars next year, but it’s hard not to argue that the Giants would see an increase in quality and consistency along with the cost of those two players.
But, if you count net cost from getting rid of Panik, and the likelihood that Gray’s arbitration salary is lower than what his projection is, that investment could be more around a net $15 million. And that investment could be gone by the 2020 offseason.
Will the Giants think like that? I’m not sure, and nobody is really quite sure what their line of thinking will be with a new GM and VP of Baseball operations. But is it a decent move? Yeah, sure. Why not?