The New York Yankees got their man, Sonny Gray, staging the New Bronx Tale while setting their sights on a World Series title in 2017 and beyond.
As first reported by the YES Network’s Jack Curry, the New York Yankees have traded for coveted A’s starter Sonny Gray, arbitration-eligible the next two years, under organizational control through 2019.
Source: Sonny Gray will be traded to the Yankees.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 31, 2017
Joel Sherman further reported that the Yankees would be parting with three assets, two of whom had major upside prior to 2017.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2017
Once the top pitching prospect in the Yankee organization, James Kaprielian sat out a large portion of 2016 with a flexor strain and was sidelined for all of 2017 and the early part of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April of this year. Formerly the organization’s number 12 prospect, Kaprielian will go nearly two full years without any action on the mound.
Alas, Dustin Fowler, once the club’s 4th-rated prospect, did not have the major league debuts that Aaron Judge, who homered alongside “debutee” Tyler Austin in the second of back-to-back shots at Yankee Stadium in August 2016, and Clint Frazier, who doubled and homered in his first start on the road against Houston on July 1 of this year, enjoyed. As Fowler ran full sprint to make a play on a foul ball against the White Sox, his leg crashed into the right field wall, damaging his patellar tendon, which required immediate surgery.
Jorge Mateo, a player who was “off limits” in a potential trade with San Diego for closer Craig Kimbrel in 2015, was deemed untouchable until now, with Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres blocking his path to shortstop and 19-year-old Esteval Florial, Jacoby Ellsbury, under contract through 2020, and even Brett Gardner impeding his potential to start in center field. In need of a center fielder themselves, the Oakland Athletics likely perceive Mateo as the centerpiece of the deal that sees Sonny Gray on his way to the Bronx.
For the price of those three chips (and not Torres, Frazier, or Florial, whom A’s GM Billy Beane was reportedly demanding), the Yankees acquire the best pitcher available at the trade deadline, 27-year-old righty Sonny Gray, whose 6-5 record, 3.43 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and second best K/9 IP rate of his young career (8.7), demonstrates his ability to move past injuries that plagued him during 2016, the worst season of his career.
Gray joins a rotation that has enjoyed a resurgence from Luis Severino, whose return to form warranted an All-Star nod, and CC Sabathia, who is enjoying his best year since 2012, his last as an All-Star, all in the final year of his contract. Jordan Montgomery, although struggling with inconsistency, leads all AL rookies in strikeouts. Even Masahiro Tanaka, who has fallen out of favor as the Yankees’ ace, hurled a gem on Friday in arguably his best start in pinstripes, when he threw eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball against the Rays on the strength of a career-high 14 strikeouts. Plus, on Sunday, New York added Jaime Garcia, a World Series champion with St. Louis and a left-handed starter who boasts a career 3.65 ERA and a 67-52 record over 166 starts.
By 2018 or 2019, Gray may feature in a rotation that also possesses Chance Adams, currently being groomed in Triple-A, and Justus Sheffield, acquired in last year’s trade for Andrew Miller, to speak nothing of Tanaka, Montgomery, and Severino.
For what it is worth, Adams and Sheffield were the third and sixth rated prospects in the Yankee organization by MLB Pipeline before the trade for Gray. With the Yankees and Cashman largely failing with long-term, free-agent deals for pitching, the front office has used the draft and trade market to furnish great arms, even with Kaprielian’s injury and eventual departure.
In two starts in the ALDS against Detroit in 2013, Gray was magnificent, posting a 2.08 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over 13 innings pitched, striking out twelve. This postseason experience, albeit through a small sample, will prove valuable in the Yankees’ pursuit of the postseason.
In one career start at Yankee Stadium, Gray hurled a quality start, allowing six hits, striking out five over seven innings in a no decision. Although he is leaving a pitchers’ paradise for a bandbox, Gray has proven resilient by bouncing back from a poor campaign in 2016, actually pitching better in his career on the road as opposed to home (his ERA, K/9 IP, and K/BB were all better away from Oakland).
In 2015, Gray was an All-Star, finishing third in Cy Young voting. While, at present, Gray might only be called upon to serve as the third starter, Gray certainly has ace potential.
Sonny Gray gets his pinstripes pic.twitter.com/Wv8e3V716p
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 31, 2017
If the deadline day acquisition of Gray has proven anything, the Yankees needed only one year to move from waving the white flag to positioning themselves as a serious World Series contender, with the re-signing of Aroldis Chapman and reacquisition of Adam Warren to feature in a bullpen with Dellin Betances and newly acquired Tommy Kahnle (controlled through 2020) and the reacquired David Robertson (under contract through 2018). Presently, the Yankees, barring injury, feature a deep rotation and the best bullpen in baseball to mimic the vaunted pen that yielded consecutive World Series appearances and an eventual title in 2015 for the Kansas City Royals.
Thanks to a sure-fire Rookie of the Year win and an AL MVP hopeful campaign from right fielder Aaron Judge, along with a Clint Frazier performance that demands he stay in the majors, the Yankees, combined with what Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius continue to do at the plate, have featured heroics from Brett Gardner one night or Ronald Torreyes the next. Quite frankly, there is no pressure on Sonny Gray to star in the rotation outright.
The New York Yankees, as a collective bunch, now have a club that can go toe-to-toe with the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Kansas City Royals in the American League, worthy of not only the playoffs but a potential AL East title and World Series berth.
Whether they have a team to best the Los Angeles Dodgers, who themselves acquired Yu Darvish on deadline day, remains to be seen.
No matter: today, the Yankees won deadline day in bringing aboard Sonny Gray. The championship prospects for 2017 and beyond have only gotten brighter, with a run at Bryce Harper likely moot given the depth and ascension of the Yankees in the outfield at the major and minor league levels.
A year removed from building the club from the bottom up through the farm system, the Yankees today boast a major league roster worthy of World Series contention, much sooner than expected.