Will Sonny Gray Be a Brave?

Editor’s note: This is brought to us by Adam R.

Look, people, it’s called the offseason for a reason. It’s not here for our entertainment, though traditional and social media outlets have successfully conditioned fans to expect constant gratification.

Slow as it’s been, I would’ve thought I’d see more scrutiny of the one interesting thing to happen (almost) over the past couple weeks: Braves’ near-acquisition of Yankees starter-turned-swingman Sonny Gray.

In years past, Gray — the 29 year-old former ace who sported a 4.90 ERA and a 3.17 ERA / 2.65 FIP away from Yankee Stadium last year — would’ve been the kind of buy-low guy maybe one or two of the smartest GMs would’ve honed in on.

Not this offseason. All the whispers surrounding him now suggest to me that Gray is viewed as the best pitcher currently available, that the league’s on to him, and unfortunately for us, that the Yankees get how valuable he is, even with just one remaining year of team control at around $9 million.

Here’s the breakdown of the rumored three-way deal that never was, Smitty’s barber-style:

Rangers get: a mystery Braves prospect or two?
Yankees get: Jurickson Profar + more?
Braves get: Sonny Gray

And here’s what actually occurred:

Rangers get: Brock Burke, Kyle Bird, Yoel Espinal, and international bonus $
A’s get: Jurickson Profar, Eli White
Rays get: Emilio Pagan, Rollie Lacy

The clear headliner for the Rangers, Brock Burke, certainly ain’t nothing. He’s 22, a third-rounder from 2014, and his stock took off this season as he put up a 3.08 ERA backed by an 10.4 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 across two levels. Burke’s improvement after reaching AA compelled the Rays to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

But make no mistake, we have better pitching prospects with longer track records and a more impressive pedigree.

With the Yankees subsequently adding Troy Tulowitzki, we lost our chance to find a third trading partner who both wants our prospects and can afford to deal a Profar-type fringe MI starter to the Yankees.

What say you, Journalistas? Is just one full season of Sonny Gray worth a pitching prospect better than Brock Burke, like Kyle Muller or Joey Wentz? Did you miss your chance to catch AA asleep on the job because you yourselves were down for the count and dreaming of Bryce Harper?

26 thoughts on “Will Sonny Gray Be a Brave?”

  1. From Remy, last thread @84:

    Dan O’Dowd doesn’t believe the Phillies have the “core foundation of players” necessary for a big free-agent signing to take properly. Rebuilding with aggregate WAR, team culture, etc.


    Watched this live the other day. His big point was that the Phils don’t have enough position player stars, and ultimately, their rebuild was not as successful. With that said, and Roger is going to do a little series on this, but we actually already had our two best young prospects in the system when we decided to rebuild (Acuna and Ozzie), so did we actually “rebuild” successfully?

  2. I agree that the Phillies’ rebuild looks clumsy at best. They do have quality players but none of the young players are star quality or has star potential.

    I guess they are recognising that and deciding to spend stupid money to buy a star they can’t develop. Honestly I am not taking the Phillies too seriously. The segura trade is good but he is not a star. The Phillies need so many pieces to even compete.

  3. i think Burke is comfortably ahead of Muller and Wentz at the moment because he corrected his largest flaw — 35/40 command — with that 2.9 bb/9 last year. Wentz doesn’t throw hard enough and Muller has injury concerns. One suspects it would have taken both to get the trade done. Gray might not project enough beyond his contract to make the deal.

    I’m glad AA and company look into this type of upgrade, but I’m not sure the opportunity cost is that large as yet. If we haven’t upgraded Julio to something better 4 weeks from now, then we can talk about what could-have-been.

  4. @3 Agreed.

    It never hurts to investigate those types of trades, but also, what is Sonny Gray now really? His stats say he needs to get out of NY, for sure. If he’s traded, is he an ace, or like a solid #2 or #3 now though?

    I can’t see trading value for a mid rotation type starter, though. Ideally, I’d think if the Braves were to push their chips in, they should go all in on an ace. If they just want serviceable innings, why not just keep the prospects, and sign a guy like Gio Gonzalez? I’m not saying the latter is my preferred path, mind you. I’m not that good at digging deeper into pitching stats though, so I did a quick glance at Gray and Gonzalez side-by-side, and really can’t see much difference.

  5. The Phillies are run by smart people, they have a few good talented youngsters, and even though they appear to have badly screwed up Kingery, they have the money (and a demonstrated willingness to spend it) to be able to buy their way out of major mistakes, just like the Cubs and Dodgers and Yankees can and just like Liberty Media won’t. They scare me a hell of a lot more than the Mets, and over the next five years, probably more than the Nats, too.

  6. Here’s the thing. Solving any of our problems with FAs, only creates more problems. The critical issue right now is the roster. If you guys think (or not, doesn’t matter) that we lost value in the system due to waiver claims this year, then next year will look like a massacre. By next year, bunches of prospects are going to become Rule 5 eligible including guys like Riley. They have to either play this year or be traded this year to get any value out of them. And that doesn’t include the guys we already put on the 40-man who are really still part of the farm. With the rule today, you cannot squirrel away a whole farm system while signing the best FAs on the market.

    Rule 5 next year include Riley, Pache, Derian, Contreras, Jasseel, Burrows, Clouse, not including guys already on the 40-man and other lesser prospects.

    The Braves will make no additional FA signings until at least one “big” trade is completed. The Gray trade might have loosened up the roster some, but since it didn’t happen the dam is still in place.

    With regards to the Gray trade, Texas accepted what they thought was the better deal – either in quantity or quality or both. If the Braves offered what they thought was fair for Gray, then they made the decision that for anything more, the value was not there. One drawback with having too many good prospects seems to be that other teams only want the best ones and anything less leaves the Braves with a perception problem (i.e. if the Braves #8 is the same as other teams #1, then trade partners could see the Braves as holding back). At some point, something will come together and then everything will break loose.

  7. @Adam R… Yeah, it’s the offseason, but we’ve been conditioned to expect activity almost every day by the two Coppy years. I just downloaded a list of all transactions and it looks like my credit card (i.e. how could there be time enough in the day to make that many charges???). It turned the season into a 12 month affair and got me hooked anyway. I held my breath last year because we all knew it was “the” transition year. This year, we were told and would nominally expect there to be a lot of wheeling/dealing and other action. Maybe we talked ourselves into it a bit, too, but we were conditioned to expect a busy offseason.

    What seems really odd to me is that the Braves haven’t even made any minor league signings of significance. We ought to have re-signed some of the folks we released to minors contracts. That I don’t understand…..

  8. @5 I’m not too worried about the Phils this year. To me, the Mets are the closest competition the Braves will have in the immediate future.

    Long-term, though, oh yeah, the Phils are going to be that team Atlanta has to battle. A big time FA or two is going to be happy to take that money. Their tv deal is ridiculous.

  9. Zach Britton to the Yanks. 3YR/$39M. We’re running out of options to add an impact reliever.

  10. It is definitely odd that we’ve made exactly one minor league transaction while the average team has made about 10 or so.

  11. AAR, I think you are giving the Phillies management more credit than they deserve. I am not impressed with their talent evaluation ability. Of course, they can definitely buy their way out of mistakes but that’s not what smart means to me.

    The Yankees are paying Britton 40m for what Jonny or Minter can do. Amazing.

  12. The Klentak regime hasn’t been in place long but they’ve made some smart moves, and that Santana/Segura trade still kills me.

    That’s a whole lot of cash for Britton. I’m going to re-up my “let’s sign Ryan Madson” comment.

  13. And keep in mind that we did sign a 36-year old elite reliever coming off a down year to a 1YR/$7M deal. We just did it at last year’s trade deadline, that’s all. Of course I’m talking about O’Day, so that needs to be kept in mind. Britton pitched exactly 20 more innings than O’Day did last year, and he got 3 years with an option for a 4th for significantly more money. And Britton had an arm issue, not a more minor knee issue, like O’Day.

  14. @15 I would think what appears to be value holding for relievers is quelling interest in landing a big-time reliever. I think some fans also know that getting to a $140M payroll, about top half, is a step in the right direction, so that that $30M figure left to spend is acceptable. So since that may be the figure, I think fans would rather see an OF added. Just my $0.02.

  15. I keep forgetting we have O’Day coming back. That’s another reason why the outfield is the main concern over the bullpen.

  16. @18

    I could be in the minority, but I also don’t necessarily see the need for another SP. If this team wins the 95 games it probably takes to win the division, it will probably have been because our SPs pitched really well:

    -Folty continued to look like an ace
    -Newcomb took a step forward
    -Gausman pitched closer to his 2.87 ERA in 60 IP for Atlanta than his time with Baltimore
    -Teheran was able to duplicate his pitching style from last year (which worked out fine, after all)
    -Someone emerged out of the prospect crop in the 5th spot.

    And I think you have insurance from anything short of a season-ending injury from Folty. I think it’s probable two of Gohara, Soroka, and Fried will deserve a rotation spot. So if anything, we’re insulated from that better than our division rivals. And of course, you can have Allard and Bryse Wilson play a role somewhere in there, and Patrick Weigel will be probably completely stretched out by then.

    If we stay the course, there’s an opportunity to have a top 3 rotation for pennies for about half a decade.

    With that said, I don’t know if this rotation scares anybody in the playoffs.

  17. @19 I’m with you. I understand investigating deals any time you can potentially upgrade, at the right price. That said, unless they’re getting Kluber, who are they bringing in that’s going to dramatically swing the needle?

    The need for an OF is obvious, so you have to figure they’ll do something there. I think you go get another quality pen piece then, and just follow the KC model of shortening the game with your bullpen. Throw Fried out there too as an Andrew Miller-esque, two inning reliever, and you never really need more than 5 innings from your SP.

  18. I tend to agree with Rob. We basically have 4 major league ready starters who are not guaranteed a rotation spot in Touki, Fried, Wright, and Wilson who all have nice upside and just need the opportunity. Any one of them is likely to step up next season.

  19. @13. Yeah, the Segura deal is a good one. I am not saying they are stupid, I am just not impressed yet. Hopefully that day will never come.

  20. At least one important person within the Phillies organization is definitely stupid, though. Looking at you, Gabe.

  21. @18, totally agree. We don’t need any SP not projecting as TOR starters. I am very comfortable with what we have. Deal Julio and I’d actually feel even better.
    Same for the bullpen. I am sure that some of our prospects will be moved to the pen at least for the short term (Fried, Gohara & Co.).

    Now let’s get an outfield bat and we’re good to go.

  22. @23

    Too unkind! He was an idiot his first week on the job at our place, nerves likely, then came good. Till August/September anyway. But he has already left his mark, Benny Hill time on the mound, where’s my pitcher?


    Welcome back stranger. How goes the world of European professional sports? Golf, cars and all that. Dull as dishwater viewed from this end. Overall, how big a stars are Hamilton/Shiffrin?

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