As the Yankees continue shopping Sonny Gray – and those talks will reportedly intensify soon – the Braves remain linked with the Vanderbilt product.
The Braves checked in on Gray earlier in the offseason and are among the teams who’ve maintained interest in the righty. With C.C. Sabathia cleared to pitch, talks on Gray are expected to “ramp up” according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, who included the Braves among six potential suitors.
Gray, who has one season of team control remaining, underwhelmed under New York’s bright lights. He produced a 4.30 ERA and 1.496 WHIP (tied for worst in his career) across 30 starts. He allowed a career-high in hits (9.5) and walks (3.9) per nine innings. The Yankees bumped him to the bullpen in August.
The 29-year-old wasn’t a complete disaster. He pitched well away from Yankee Stadium, earning a 3.17 ERA and holding opponents to a .226 average in those 71 innings. He was hit for three homers on the road opposed to 11 at home (in 59-1/3 innings).
Since joining the Yankees, Gray has a 2.84 ERA on the road against a 6.55 ERA in New York. “Just get him out of there” is becoming a common, and understanding, phrase.
He also fared better after the All-Star break, accumulating a 3.63 ERA in the second half opposed to his 5.46 first-half mark (in significantly fewer innings, but a small positive nonetheless).
Before taking on the country’s largest market, Gray was among the American League’s best hurlers in Oakland. He owned a 2.91 ERA across 427 innings (64 starts) in 2014-15. His work in 2015 resulted in an All-Star appearance and placed him third in Cy Young voting. He was a hot commodity when the A’s elected to finally pull the trigger on a deal.
He’s not as coveted this time around, but there are enough franchises who think he needs a change of scenery. ESPN reported the Braves “had traction” on a Gray trade earlier this winter, a three-team deal with the Yankees and Rangers that fell through.
The Yankees’ initial asking price from the Braves included a major-league player, and there’s no indication they’ve lowered their expectations. The Braves maintain they’re content with the current stable of starters, while the outfield and perhaps bullpen are greater needs.