The trade talks surrounding Sonny Gray have dragged on for months, but it appears that things might finally be coming to a head. In fact, there’s reason to believe that the New York Yankees may deal the embattled right-hander as soon as this weekend:
Yankees and #Reds are getting closer on a Sonny Gray trade. Teams are talking about two prospects and a draft pick going for Sonny. One of 2B prospect Shed Long and C prospect Tyler Stephenson may go. #SFGiants, Braves, Brewers are on periphery. A deal should happen this weekend.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 19, 2019
It should come as no surprise that the Reds are the favorites to land Gray, given the pitcher’s closeness with new coach Derek Johnson. Gray pitched for Johnson while both were at Vanderbilt University and the pair developed a close bond, which later helped lead to two years worth of trade rumors linking Gray to the Brewers while Johnson was coaching in Milwaukee. No sooner than when the Reds backed the truck up to Johnson and convinced him to become their pitching coach earlier this winter, the Sonny-to-Cincy rumors began.
Though the Reds may be the active leaders in the Gray sweepstakes, that doesn’t mean that the Brewers are out of it just yet. Slingin’ Stearns has continued to keep in contact with the Yankees this winter even after Johnson’s departure, proving that the org’s interest in the pitcher goes farther than simply the DJ connection. Gray will earn an affordable $7.5 mil in 2019 before reaching free agency and has previously shown the ability to pitch at the front of a starting rotation. Many believe his struggles last season are due in large part to pitching his home games at Yankee Stadium as well as some specific changes that New York implemented regarding his pitch selection that differed from his successful run in Oakland.
If there is any truth to the rumored package the Reds and Yankees are said to be discussing, it might be difficult for Milwaukee to convince New York to pivot their direction in talks. Stephenson and Long are both rated as 50 OFP prospects in Fangraphs’ recently published Reds’ top prospect list for 2019 and are expected to debut within the next two seasons. Milwaukee’s farm system boasts only three total prospects with at least a 50 OFP according to the same outlet, and since the club obviously wouldn’t yield Keston Hiura in this deal, the closest they could offer in terms of similar value would be Tristen Lutz plus Corey Ray. It might take a willingness to part with someone already on the MLB roster like Freddy Peralta in order for Milwaukee to move ahead of the Reds.
Sonny Gray probably won’t be suiting up for the Cream City Nine in 2019, but if not, at least the speculation about his landing spot should finally be over soon.