The LA Angels offseason may been given a gift on Friday. Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees, made it clear former ace Sonny Gray would be available this winter.
The LA Angels know Sonny Gray all too well. When Gray was the Oakland Athletics ace, he faced the Halos 14 times and allowed 33 runs in those starts, good enough for 2.35 runs per start. Quite simply, he dominated the Angels (and the rest of the league) as an A’s pitcher.
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But when he went to the Bronx, things changed. In two years with the Yankees, Gray posted a 4.51 ERA. He never seemed like the same pitcher, and there were a lot of things that seemed to factor into his poor performance for one of the MLB’s best teams (and most cutthroat fanbases).
First off, Yankee stadium is a joke. For a pitcher to have a good ERA in that stadium is so hard, and Gray gave up more HR/9 during his time with the Yankees than he ever had before. Second, New York is not a place where every player can play well. It takes a certain amount of gusto to pitch in the Bronx, and there’s no shame in not having it. Third, the level of competition in the AL East is beyond tough. Boston won 108 games. The Rays would’ve been a playoff team in the National League. Toronto holds their own. Baltimore is… well awful.
Sonny Gray has not been an impressive pitcher the past two years. But, he is only 28-years old and could definitely rebound with another change in scenery. So why not bring him back to the division he dominated?
The Angels have potential in their starting rotation, but injury concerns and Shohei Ohtani restricted to designated hitting in 2019 could force their hand in attempting to bring in help this year. They have been rumored to be interested in several free agent starters, but no player offers more upside than Gray, who was a Cy Young candidate in Oakland.
The price for Gray could be a mystery. He is under club control for two more seasons, but given his recent performance he could be available at a discounted price. The Yankees are going to be big players this offseason, but they need infield depth within their farm system. Didi Gregorius has not shown consistency, so maybe Luis Rengifo, the Halos #10 prospect who they received in the CJ Cron deal, along with a mid-tier prospect would be enough for the Yankees to pull the trigger.
It would be no sure thing, but Sonny Gray has a 1.76 ERA at The Big A in his career. That sure would be nice to see, but this time, Gray could be wearing the red and white and starting in the top of the inning.