As the LA Angels begin preparing for free agency, they must also keep an eye on the trade block, where a perfect fit for Billy Eppler’s mentality might be available.
In his years since taking over as the LA Angels general manager, Billy Eppler has often spoken about getting cost-controlled pitching. As well all know, that has yet to work out. And as the Halos target Gerrit Cole and other aces in free agency, one pitcher on the trade market should be desirable as well.
Jon Gray has never been an All Star like Cole, Stephen Strasburg, or Hyun-Jin Ryu. He’s never had a sub-3.00 ERA either. However, he is one of the best trade options for the Angels this offseason, especially with the free agency they hope to have.
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If the Angels legitimately hope to land not just Cole, but an ace-level running mate as well, they’ll need controllable players on cheap deals. That is exactly what Jon Gray is. He will be a free agent following the 2021 season, which means two years of arbitration (translation: cheap pitching).
Gray has been an effective pitcher thus far in his career despite his home games being in Colorado. Interestingly, his home/road splits aren’t what we typically see for Rockies’ starters. Gray is an overall solid pitcher who doesn’t allow many home runs, and would receive a huge boost going from the most hitter-friendly park in Coors Field to a more pitcher-friendly stadium in Anaheim.
To make him even more of an Eppler favorite, he has an absolutely devastating off speed pitch in his slider. A 41.2% swinging strike rate on the pitch is elite, and Eppler loves acquiring pitchers with exceptional breaking balls.
So what would it cost to get an arm like Gray? While he’s no ace, those two years of control are of extreme value on the trade market. The Rockies would likely be looking for a mix of MLB talent and prospects.
A collection of Matt Thaiss, Jaime Barria, and Jahmai Jones may get the deal done. It would give Colorado an infusion of youth in their rotation and infield. If the Rockies prefer outfield talent, the Angels have a plethora of that in their farm system as well.
So while the focus of the offseason remains on the aces in free agency, the Halos can’t sleep on the trade market, and Jon Gray needs to be one of their top targets in that category.