This could be the year the Oakland Athletics finally trade ace Sonny Gray, but which teams make the most sense?
Sonny Gray, the ace of the Oakland Athletics, has spent the better part of three years on the trade block. That comes with the territory of being drafted by the small-market A’s. Billy Beane has always known when to trade away his homegrown talent for another handful of prospects years away from free agency. If Gray is aggressively shopped as the deadline approaches, he will draw a crowd of contenders interested in blowing Beane away with a package of MLB-ready talent.
After finishing third in the AL Cy Young vote in 2015 with a 14-7 record and 2.73 ERA, Gray struggled with injuries in 2016 and limped home with a 5.69 ERA in only 22 starts. Injuries bothered him again in Spring Training, and the right-hander did not make his 2017 debut until May 2. It has not been all fun and games and dominant outings for Gray this year, but he looks much more like the budding ace than he did at any point last season. He is 2-1 in his last three starts with a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings.
Gray will not be a free agent until after the 2019 season, giving whichever team acquires him over two years of control. With his value spiking back in the right direction, now is the time for the A’s to pull off a blockbuster trade. Which MLB teams make the most sense as potential trade partners?
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The playoffs will most likely elude the Blue Jays this season, but that does not mean they should stop thinking about the future. They have one more year in 2018 to make a World Series push with Josh Donaldson before he can test the free-agent market. Toronto is a stretch here given how much they blew up their farm system at the deadline in 2015, but is a good fit for Gray nonetheless.
In recent years, Toronto has taken over from Pittsburgh as the city where pitchers go to revitalize their careers. Being taken under the wing of pitching coach Pete Walker has worked wonders for Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Francisco Liriano. Catcher Russell Martin is also one of the best framers in the league. Assuming the blister woes that have plagued Aaron Sanchez all year subside next year, the Jays could have the best top three in the league if they pull off a trade for Gray.