Sonny Gray has had his name in trade rumors before, back in 2017 when he was dealt from the A’s to the Yankees, and again in 2019 when he was traded from the Yankees to his current home as a front-line starter for the Cincinnati Reds. Now, as the Reds seem to have missed their window with Trevor Bauer searching for a new home in free-agency, the trade rumors have begun to swirl around the eight-year starter and two time All-Star. Where will he end up? It seems that there are a few common teams in the mix for the right-hander. The Reds have expressed interest in shopping him around for the right deal, while they could also be interested in keeping him. We have heard the Padres being a frontrunner for Gray, after losing their trade deadline acquisition Mike Clevinger for the 2021 season due to Tommy John Surgery. Yes, Gray has had a ton of success in the National League, however, with rumors of a universal DH still up in the air with MLB dragging their feet, this could leave out ‘automatic’ options for Gray. So where does he go? Well, there is a team about 4 hours north of Cincinnati that could use a starter like Gray, and that is the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox need a starting pitcher. Sure, you have Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel at the top of their rotation, and recently added Lance Lynn who seems to be sliding into the three spot in the rotation. However, Lynn has been okay throughout his career, and is coming off of a career year with the Rangers last season, pitching to a 3.32 ERA. Looking into the White Sox bullpen, there aren’t any flashy names in there but they are effective. There’s 2020 first round pick Garrett Crochet, Aaron Bummer, and Jimmy Cordero to name a few. But why Gray? In a rotation that is already loaded with right-handed pitchers (if you believe in that R,L,R stuff), why do the White Sox need him?
Well, let’s look into the statistics. Dating back to 2016, Gray has only pitched in four games at Guaranteed Rate Field. The majority of these games came during his tenure with the Yankees, where Gray seemed to lose himself and, to what he has said, the staff told him to throw his slider in the zone for strikes, in which the numbers spoke for themselves, it wasn’t pretty. The starts weren’t “bad,” per se. In 2016, Gray had one start with the A’s at Guaranteed Rate Field, tossing seven innings, allowing one run and punching out five. In 2017 with the Yankees, he had two more starts, one being a clunker early, tossing 7 innings, giving up five earned runs and again punching out 5. In the other start in 2017, he showed to be much better and it felt much more like a Sonny Gray start, with six innings pitched, two earned runs, and again punching out five. Finally, his last appearance at Guaranteed Rate Field came in 2018, Gray’s last season with the Yankees. However, it wasn’t in a start, it was in relief. Gray came in on August 7th and tossed three shutout innings, allowing only one hit, and striking out four.
“Well the White Sox just added Lance Lynn to bolster the rotation, why would they try to add Sonny Gray?” Sonny Gray doesn’t want to be a reliever, we’ve known that. And he is a very viable option for the White Sox. Dallas Keuchel very solid in 2020, his first year in Chicago. The question is; what Dallas Keuchel are you getting on a year-to-year basis? Why not move Keuchel to the bullpen? That would allow him to go a couple of innings of middle relief in order to bridge the gap from starter to late inning guys. Sonny can slot in right behind Lynn in the three spot, and the move would not only shore up the rotation, but the bullpen as well. Adding another reliable starter is a move Chicago should consider if they want to improve on their successful 2020 season.