Sonny Gray is far from the All-Star caliber pitcher he was with Oakland back in the early 2010s but is still a very serviceable starting pitcher for a team like the Rangers.
In 2022, Gray will be entering his age-32 season, leaving the prime of his career behind and looking towards the next chapter. However, he has pitched fairly well for the Reds over his three seasons in Cincy.
In 2019, Sonny Gray made his second All-Star game in his first year with the Reds. His 2.87 ERA and 205/68 strikeout to walk ratio helped keep fans in the seats, as the Reds finished in fourth place in the NL Central.
Since 2019, Gray has regressed but has been considered a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. In 2020, he pitched to a 3.70 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 133 ERA+. This past season, Gray saw his ERA sit at 4.19 over 135.1 innings, striking out 155 and walking 50. His ERA+ was 114 and FIP was 3.99.
While the statistics won’t blow your socks off, his advanced metrics might. According to Baseball Savant, Sonny Gray ranked among the league’s best in Average Exit Velocity, Hard Hit Percentage, xwOBA, xERA, xSLG, Barrel Percentage, Fastball Spin, and Curve Spin.
His ability to prevent hard contact, whether that’s with control or the incredible spin rates he possesses, makes him an intriguing option for the Rangers.
He has a six-pitch mix, featuring the sinker, four-seamer, curveball, slider, cutter, and changeup. He allowed a minuscule .214 average against his sinker in 2021, while putting hitters away with his slider/cutter combo. Opposing batters hit .164 against the slider and .083 against his cutter in 2021.
Sonny Gray is in the middle of a 4 year, $38 million extension he signed with Cincinnati In 2019 and will be owed just over $10 million in 2022. He also has a $12 million team option for the 2023 season. If everything works out, the Texas Rangers would have Gray on a 2-year, $22 million deal, similar to the ones signed by Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Kyle Gibson.
But, what might it take to lure Sonny Gray and his contract away from Cincy? Well, an open payroll might help the Rangers in this situation.
Taking on Gray’s contract allows Texas to deal from their mid-level prospects. Trevor Hauver, acquired from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, is a versatile piece that puts together great at-bats. He is the Rangers’ #13 prospect. The left-handed Bradford is a former Baylor Bear that the Rangers took in the 6th round in 2019, and projects as a crafty back-of-the-rotation starter. While Weems, acquired from the White Sox, could easily slot into the Reds bullpen and use his wipeout slider to become a very effective reliever.
Sonny Gray seems like the likeliest to be dealt, but there’s one more righty the Rangers have been in talks about.