Detroit Tigers Free Agent Review: Right-hander pitcher Jon Gray
The Colorado Rockies did not give right-hander Jon Gray a qualifying offer. Does he fit in the Detroit Tigers rotation?
This evening, the Rockies did not give right-hander Jon Gray a qualifying offer. The third pick over in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Oklahoma was one of the best homegrown starters Colorado has had so this came as a huge surprise. So the question is, can he fit into the Detroit Tigers rotation?
So if the Rockies did give Gray a qualifying offer, that means any team that signs him would have to give up a draft pick. The qualifying offer for one year is going for $18.4 million dollars and they did offer one to shortstop Trevor Story, who is popular with a few Tigers fans as an option for short.
Who is Jon Gray?
Gray, who has a pretty sweet nickname of the “Gray Wolf”, made his debut on August 4th, 2015 against Seattle. Two years later, Gray would pitch in the one-game NL Wild Card in which he lost to the Diamondbacks. He features a fastball, slider, changeup, and curveball. His slider is his best pitch as it generated a WHIFF rate of 38.8% in 2021 and a run value of -13.
His curve is just as good as batters hit just .120 against it.
Gray’s off-speed pitches allow him to set up his fastball better with mid 3/4 quarters delivery as he drives the pitches home. In 2019, he was able to generate a ground ball rate of 51.8% in addition to a K per 9 of 9.5. In 149 innings, he struck out 157 in 2021 and produced a FIP of 4.22, which is lower than his 4.59 ERA.
His fastball velocity is up again to 95 after dropping down to 94 last season, which could be due to his more recent injuries. This season, he missed time to right forearm tightness, and in the shortened 2020 season, he had right shoulder inflammation. Before that, he has had left foot fractures twice, the first time in 2017 and the last time in 2019.
What was strange as the Athletic ($) reported was that the Rockies offered him a $35-40 million dollar extension for three years that would have put him around $12 million per season but he decline. The reason perhaps is because that would have put him near the bottom tier of pitchers when it comes to an annual salary.
What Jon Gray Would Do for the Detroit Tigers?
It’s simple, it would give them a top-tier starter in their rotation. His splits from home to away were identical so the thin mountain air did not affect him as starters in the past. The question that is out there is how healthy is Gray? If he can go out there and produce like he has with around 25-30 starts per season, which he has done since 2016 (minus last season of course), then the Tigers would have a stable veteran with two wipeout off-speed pitches.
Bonus Rockies pitcher: Yency Almonte
As a bonus, I would like to throw out there an invite to camp right-hander Yency Almonte who was night and day at home and on the road.
Almonte is a free agent and the Tigers need some bullpen depth. Almonte features a fastball, slider, and a changeup. His slider held batters to just a .243 batting average and a WHIFF% of 41.4.
This idea is more or less a project for Chris Fetter but I believe there is enough there to at least extend an invite. I mean, just look at the darting action on this slider.