If and when the season starts, the Detroit Tigers will need to address their starting rotation. Today, we look at RHP Sonny Gray.
MLB Trade Rumors recently posted an article about likely trade candidates that may move. One name I wrote about, Jake Odorizzi, I thought would be a good fit for the back end of the Detroit Tigers rotation. The other name that was mentioned is right-hander Sonny Gray of the Cincinnati Reds.
Gray is currently making $10 million per season with a team option for $12 million in 2023. He is eligible to be a free agent after the 2023 season so the Tigers would get two years’ worth of a contract if a trade even happen.
Why make a trade for Sonny Gray?
There are plenty of reasons for the “why” on Sonny Gray but the main one that is rather clear on a rotation that features Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal with Matt Manning in the mix, Gray would be the go to veteran to end a losing streak. Does that sound very hurrah, hurrah? Sure, but if you look at the Reds rotation in 2021, he, along with Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, were one of the better trios in the National League.
Gray throws a two-seam and 4-seam fastball, curve, slider, cutter and changeup. He had an unique record, as he had a 48 game streak of allowing no more than six hits.
On paper, Gray is coming off a “down” season in which he had a rash of injuries ranging from his back (second season in a row) and missed the last part of the season because of a groin issue. His fastball velocity was at his career low of 92 MPH, but his spin on the pitch was among the 82 percentile in all of baseball.
His slider is one of his best pitches in terms of getting batters to chase as he has a 32.9% chase rate he can throw to both sides of the plate. It is straight filth. In 2020, his slider produced a 16.8 inches of horizontal break. Last season, it was 17.3, which was 8.4 against the league average.
As far as what the Reds would want for Gray, they are set with an infield of Jonathan India, Jose Barrero, their young up-and-coming shortstop out of Cuba, Eugenio Suarez and Kyle Farmer. The quality of his pitches is there but could he throw over 150 innings? Based on the recent production, it’s hard to say. He threw only 135 because of injuries, but if the Reds are looking to offset salary like they did with Tucker Barnhart, they may look for a 2nd tier prospect to get the deal done.