Posted on July 31, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After days of rumors and speculation, Sonny Gray is finally a member of the New York Yankees. Just one hour before the MLB trade deadline, the Oakland Athletics finally agreed to trade Gray. As part of the deal, the A’s will receive three prospects from the Yankees: outfielder Dustin Fowler, shortstop Jorge Mateo, and pitcher James Kaprielian.
The Yankees have long been favorites to land Gray, even after acquiring Jaime Garcia on Sunday. However, negotiations appeared to have stalled, as the Yankees refused to part with top prospects Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier. However, the two sides were able to negotiate a different set of prospects that leaves both teams happy.
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, it’s been no secret that the Yankees were looking for rotation help. It’s also no secret that most considered Gray to be the best starter available. With the Yankees owning one of the most impressive farm systems in baseball, they were always the favorites to land Gray.
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In the short term, Gray goes to the front of the rotation for the first-place Yankees. The Yankees should be pleased with the performance of their rotation this season. However, they have not received an ace-like performance from Masahiro Tanaka this year. Despite positive signs in recent starts, Tanaka has an ERA of 5.09 on the season. Aside from Tanaka, the Yankees are left to rely on the aging C.C. Sabathia and youngsters Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.
However, the additions of Gray and Garcia change the look of New York’s rotation. After a down year in 2016, Gray has performed more like a true ace in 2017. In 16 starts this season, Gray has a 3.43 ERA. With the additions of a frontline starter like Gray and a veteran like Garcia, the Yankees should feel a lot more confident about their rotation heading down the stretch.
Gray will also be in position to anchor New York’s rotation in the years to come, as he has two more years of arbitration before free agency. The Yankees are poised to lose Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and possibly Tanaka from their rotation this winter. Acquiring Gray now means they’ll need to add one less starting pitcher this offseason.
As for the A’s, they didn’t land an elite prospect like Torres or Frazier. But they did acquire three quality prospects, even if two are coming off serious injuries. Fowler suffered a season-ending knee injury his major league debut earlier this season. However, he has five-tool potential and could become Oakland’s center fielder of the future. Mateo is one of the fastest players in the minors and has enjoyed great success offensively since being promoted to double-A last month. Finally, Kaprielian may not see a mound for another year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. But the former 1st-round pick has a chance to move quickly through the minors once he returns to full health.
After days of back and forth between the A’s and Yankees, both teams should be pleased with this trade. The Yankees get the starter they wanted and needed without giving up an elite prospect. Meanwhile, the A’s may have added two future regulars in Fowler and Mateo, as well as a pitcher with great potential once he’s healthy. It’s quite possible that a few years down the road, both teams view this trade as a win.