The Chicago White Sox need pitchers and the New York Yankees have one available for trade.
It isn’t unheard of for the White Sox and Yankees to become trade partners, especially when it comes to pitching deals.
But, this might be one pitching deal that the Sox should walk away from, very quickly. If Sonny Gray isn’t good enough for the Yankees, then he isn’t good enough for the Sox. But, then again, maybe he is.
Gray started his career with the Oakland A’s when he was only 23 years old. He had some up-and-down seasons but ended up with a 3.42 ERA in his five seasons in California. Gray was traded to the Yankees in 2017 and after 34 starts and 41 games, he ended up with an ERA of 4.51. While Gray excelled in O-Town, he wasn’t as strong in the Big Apple.
Before saying no way to Gray, it is worth understanding how challenging it can be to simply be a Yankee. New York is a tough market where the media and fans nitpick every little thing. It makes Chicago look like a cakewalk. Which is exactly why Chicago could be a good fit for Gray. He might thrive in a market with less pressure – like that of the ChiSox (although we at Southside Showdown can be hard – at times – on players).
Gray has some issues that should be red flags for any team that needs starting pitching. Gray walks batters, but then again, so did most of the 2018 starters who wore Sox uniforms. In 130.1 innings, he walked 57 batters. His ratio of innings and walks is up significantly from his All-Star season in 2015 when he walked 59 batters in 208 innings. In 2018, he walked 3.9 batters per nine.
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Even though his base-on-balls numbers are up, they are still better than the 2018 Sox starting rotation. In 173.1 innings, Lucas Giolito walked 90 batters (1st in the AL) at 4.67 BB/9. James Shields walked 78 batters in 204.2 innings (3.43 BB/9) and Reynaldo Lopez walked 75 batters in 188.2 innings (3.43 BB/9)
Those 57 walks don’t look so bad when put into perspective. But, they’re still not good.
The other consideration with Sonny Gray is the number of home runs he gave up in 2018: 14. This isn’t the most that he’s ever given up; that happened in 2017 when he gave up 19 in 162.1 innings. But, for perspective, he gave up 18 in the 117 innings he pitched in 2016. His home run numbers are lower than say, James Shields (34) or Lucas Giolito (27). Even Lopez had more dingers – 25.
So, maybe the home run numbers aren’t that bad.
The White Sox should take a flier on Gray. The right-hander could fill one of the empty holes in the 2019 rotation. He might not be perfect, but he’s got better numbers than many of men currently on the roster. The Yankees paid him $6.5 million in 2018, so he’s affordable, too.