At this point, many of you are probably thinking that the asking price for Castillo is too high (I wouldn’t blame you). In that case, trading for Cincinnati’s number two starter may be the better option for the LA Angels.
Why the LA Angels should consider trading for Sonny Gray:
The LA Angels and Sonny Gray have seemed like a perfect match for a while now.
As of now, the 32-year-old Gray is owed just $10.2 million next year, and comes with a $12 million club option for 2023.
Though he is older and comes with a shorter contract than both Marquez and Castillo, Gray shouldn’t exactly fall off a cliff yet and will at least stick around for what should be LA’s most competitive seasons in over a decade.
While he’s no longer the pitcher he was with the Oakland A’s, Gray has proven over these last three seasons in Cincinnati that he has plenty left in the tank. Remember, he is still only two years removed from a top-10 NL Cy Young finish in 2019.
Sure, he struggled a bit with injury in 2021, producing a middling 4.19 ERA and 3.99 FIP across 26 starts, but digging a little deeper shows that there is still plenty to be excited about.
For starters, he produced his lowest walk rate (8.7%) since 2017, while also putting up the third-best strikeout rate (27%) of his career. He also held opposing batters to a .225 batting average and a .687 OPS.
In terms of batted ball stats, Gray was elite last year, placing in the 91st percentile in hard hit rate (32.1%), the 92nd percentile in barrel rate (4.7%), and the 88th percentile in average exit velocity (86.6 mph).
Gray had some of the best expected stats in the league too, including a .215 xBA, .324 xSLG and an excellent 3.24 xERA.
So yeah, don’t discount Gray as being broken goods just yet.
His performance isn’t the only thing that makes him an attractive trade piece either, as the package needed to acquire him won’t be nearly as bad as Castillo’s.
If anything, it should be comparable to the Marquez one, just swap out the shortstop prospect for Jordyn Adams and maybe add in an extra mid-tier pitching prospect and that should do it.
In the end, any one of these three starters would be a huge get for the Angels. Not only are all of them great pitchers, but compared to similar pitchers currently in free agency, these guys are all drastically cheaper. Money saved here can no doubt be super useful in bolstering the infield and bullpen via free agency.
However, what the Angels save in money, they lose in whatever high-ranking minor-league talent they have left.
Again, it’s understandable that some may get cold feet when it comes to trading some of our best prospects given the status of LA’s subpar farm system, but for a team in win now mode, these moves may be necessary if the Angels want to reach the playoffs while Trout and Ohtani are still here.