Tuesday, August 1, 2017

There's No Doubt About This Trade

The majority of Yankees fans and members of the media like the trade for Sonny Gray for the Yankees. That's not to say they don't like the deal for Oakland, but who cares about them? Am I right? You're here for the New York freakin' Yankees.

As I was saying, most people not only like that Gray is a Yankee, but they like the way he became a Yankee. If you've been locked in a cellar for the past 20 hours, let me catch you up to speed...

The Yankees and Athletics agreed to a trade yesterday that sent Sonny Gray to New York, while sending prospects Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, and James Kaprielian to Oakland.

First thing's first, acquiring Sonny Gray is a good thing for the Yankees. Since his MLB debut in 2013 (he's still just 27 years old, by the way), Sonny has started 112 games, putting up an ERA of 3.42 and WHIP of 1.200. He's averaged just under three walks every nine innings, while striking out a little under eight batters per nine. By the way, those numbers include his injury riddled 2016, in which he had career worsts in all four of those statistics.

That injury history refers to Sonny going on the disabled list last May due to a strained right trapezius muscle, and then again in August due to a strained right forearm. Sadly that wasn't it as Gray missed all of April this season due to a strained right shoulder (he was not put on the disabled list, but instead assigned to the minors for rehabilitation).

So acquiring Gray does not come without some risk, especially since all of those injuries involve his throwing arm. Thankfully, he's proven that as long as he's healthy he's a starter that you can run out there every five days and feel good about your chances of winning. Which is something this year's team needs in order to win the American League East, and do a little more damage in the postseason.

Another good thing is that Sonny is just an arbitration eligible player, and will not be a free agent until after the 2019 season. Fangraphs values Gray at $17.7 million so far this season, but he will make just $3.575 million. That's a gigantic return on investment. And while Sonny will surely get a raise next year, it will go a long way into the team finally reaching it's goal of getting under the Luxury Tax threshold.

There's no doubt that it's a good to great thing bringing Mr. Gray on board. However, when valuing his acquisition, you must also look at what it cost to get him.

"This total could hurt."

I touched on this Friday, where I pointed out that the outfield for the future is set, and then some. Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge have the corner spots locked down for at least another five years. Center field is a bit of a question, but not in a bad way. I'd like to see Brian Cashman find a way to move him, but Jacoby Ellsbury can play CF, and is signed through 2020. Brett Gardner's contract runs through next season. And Aaron Hicks, who is not too far from returning from the disabled list, won't be a free agent until after the 2019 season. And that doesn't include the fact that I really want the Yankees to sign Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent after next season (unfortunately, Bryce hasn't played CF since 2015, but we'll figure that out once he's signed).

Oh, and the Yankees still have Estevan Florial, who is probably two or three years away from being MLB-ready. Not to mention Billy McKinney, who has been hitting really well since getting promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

So the losses of Mateo and Fowler should not lead to any trouble at all.

Now for the starting rotation of the future, which has at least one question, making the loss of possible future starter James Kaprielian hurt a bit.

Gray won't be a free agent until after the 2019 season, while Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery won't be a free agent until after the 2022 season. After that the team may have Masahiro Tanaka through 2020 if he doesn't opt out of his contract after the season (I could see the Yanks re-signing him even if he does opt out). That leaves one more spot for 2018, which could be filled by CC Sabathia (he's been mentioned as a candidate for a one year deal for 2018). If not CC, then there's Chance Adams, who's been killing it at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Or even Domingo Acevedo, who was a beast for Trenton, and will join Scranton/Wilkes-Barre here soon. Then there's Justus Sheffield, who is not far from the Majors as he's spent all of 2017 at AA Trenton. A little further down the line is highly regarded pitching prospect Albert Abreu. That's still a ton of depth.

So the Yankees improved their chances of winning this year, helped solidify the rotation for the next two years, still have a great shot at getting under the Luxury Tax threshold next season, and are left with a number of options to fill their roster from within for years to come.

Yes, losing any good prospect hurts, especially when it's three at once. I wasn't sold on Mateo continuing to dominate, but I liked the guy and thought he could be an option for the team in a few years. Even though he's constantly hurt, Kaprielian still has a high ceiling, so he could hurt us as early as next season. And then there's Fowler, who despite having suffered a serious knee injury leading to surgery, could be a solid piece for the Oakland A's next year and beyond. So I don't want you to think I'm disregarding those three... not at all.

But when you look at the whole of the deal, there's no doubt in my mind that the Yankees did the right thing here. So while you're entitled to your opinions...


  1. I hated to lose the three prospects, no doubt, and I think they'll do well in Oakland until they become too expensive. But all in all, I like the trade to pick up a starter who is no worse than a solid #2 or #3 at an extremely low cost for the next couple of years (which frees up capital for other areas of the roster). But my primary disappointment was not finding a better answer for first base. I know Chase Headley has been killing it since the All-Star Break but I don't trust him . We seem to betting that Greg Bird comes back this year but he's already proven it is best not to pin one's hopes on him. Tyler Austin is not far behind on the unreliability scale. I think we missed out not getting Lucas Duda who showed over the weekend that his bat plays very well at Yankee Stadium or Yonder Alonso.

    1. I agree that finding a better option for 1B would have been nice. The idea that the Yankees could get both Gray and Yonder Alonso was really exciting (I'm really surprised Alonso is still an A, as I wouldn't count on them being able to re-sign him when he's a free agent at the end of the season).

      However, I'm not worried about it. Not that I believe Headley will keep this up, but thanks to having so many weapons on offense I don't believe run scoring will be a problem (C Frazier, Sanchez, Judge, Gregorius, and Gardner, even if Castro doesn't return for a while longer).


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)