Phillies trade rumors: Should team pursue Sonny Gray?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees pitches in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 25, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees pitches in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 25, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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The Yankees will shop beleaguered starter Sonny Gray during the offseason. Should the Phillies be interested in the left-handed starter?

While the starting rotation was the best part of the Phillies in 2018, it was still far from perfect. They have found their ace in Aaron Nola, but adding to the back end of their rotation certainly couldn’t hurt, whether it be in free agency or via trade. One option for a trade could be Yankees starter, Sonny Gray.

Before the season was even over, it was clear the Yankees were ready to move on from Gray. He was moved out of the rotation for the last two months of the season after posting a 5.56 ERA through 21 starts. They didn’t even add him to the postseason roster as they already had a strong bullpen without him.

The Yankees have now stated publicly that they will try to move Gray. General manager David Cashman said as much in his press conference Friday afternoon:

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It is rare for a team to state publicly that they want to trade a player. For starters, it removes a lot of their leverage in negotiations. Plus, if they fail to trade said player, then he becomes soured to the team he is playing for. However, in Gray’s case, it is probably best for him to be out of the harsh spotlight of New York.

Gray’s overall numbers for this year aren’t great.

In 30 appearances, he had a 4.90 ERA, 9.8% walk rate, 1.50 WHIP, and surrendered 14 home runs. Each one of Philadelphia’s starters five main finished with a better ERA.

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With that being said, there is still reason to believe Gray can succeed outside of New York. 11 of the 14 home runs he allowed were at Yankee Stadium, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. 20% of the fly balls he gave up at home went for home runs; only 6.0% did on the road. That disparity existed in 2017 after being traded to the Yankees as well: he gave up eight home runs in five home starts but just three in six road starts. Cashman may just be right in saying it is probably best for him to pitch somewhere else. While Citizens Bank Park still tends to favor hitters, it is nowhere to the extreme that Yankee Stadium does.

Plus, Gray wouldn’t command the same kind of haul the Yankees sent to Oakland last year. Given his struggles and the Yankees admitting they are going to trade him, whichever team trades for him will likely only have to give up one or two mid-tier prospects. Gray also has only one year left before free agency, so the Yankees couldn’t play the long-term control card.

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Taking a stab at Gray wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. He is still young, has had plenty of success in the past, and wouldn’t cost all that much in terms of prospects or dollars. He may just be worth taking a risk on. If he can return to his previous form, then he will be a worthy addition to the rotation.