The starting rotation wound up being a major weakness for the Los Angeles Angels in 2023. That comes as no secret. Every starter with the exception of Griffin Canning and Chase Silseth failed to meet expectations. Yes, that even includes Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels ranked 19th in starting pitcher ERA this past season, a far cry from the sixth spot they held in 2022. The worst part about the Angels rotation regressing is that things might get even worse before they get better. Even if the Angels find a way to convince Shohei Ohtani to stay long-term, he can't even pitch this upcoming season.
With that in mind, adding a frontline starter is a must for the Angels to even think about being somewhat relevant. With Sonny Gray's contract projections being as team-friendly as they are, bringing him in should be a no-brainer for Perry Minasian.
Sonny Gray's cheap contract projections make him an easy LA Angels free agency target
Sonny Gray has been an underrated hurler for a while now and showed no signs of slowing down in 2023. In fact, he put together one of his best seasons for the AL Central champion Twins. In 32 starts for Minnesota, Gray posted a 2.79 ERA in 184 innings pitched. There's a very good chance he's going to finish as an AL Cy Young finalist.
Gray led the league in both FIP (2.83) and HR/9 (0.4). He doesn't walk many, and gave up just eight home runs all year. He has a career 3.47 ERA in his 11-year career, and has just three seasons in which he's posted an ERA above 4.00.
Gray's consistency would in theory mean he'd get a sizable contract, but the mock deals that came from Jon Heyman of the NY Post and two experts would be pretty team-friendly. All three individuals predict a three-year deal and have a total between $65-72 million. That seems quite cheap, especially when comparing it to other deals they have.
Heyman and his experts have Lucas Giolito pegged to make similar money in a multi-year deal. Yes, the same Lucas Giolito that was absolutely abysmal for the Angels and didn't look any better in Cleveland. One of Heyman's experts has Giolito making $80 million over four years.
I get the fact that he's going to be 34 years old when he signs his contract is a bit concerning, but there are no signs showing Gray is slowing down any time soon. The chances of them signing a pitcher like Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are slim, but Gray is just as good and will require much less term. The Angels need to make a real rotation upgrade, and Gray fits that bill at a cheap enough cost where there really is no excuse.