Sonny Gray is arguably the face of the Oakland Athletics. Swingin’ A’s writers explain their thoughts on whether the current ace should stay or go.
Editor’s note: Welcome to this month’s roundtable at Swingin’ A’s, where I’ve asked everyone from my staff about Gray’s past, present and future.
Mark Sigmon: I feel that you have to hold on to a pitcher that finished third in the Cy Young Award race in 2015. Even the best pitchers are going to have an “off game” from time to time. Sonny Gray has been pretty consistent since he came off the DL. He has a couple good games giving up one or two earned runs, and then he lays an egg and gives up five runs or seven runs. His fastball is still moving around 94-95 mph. He just has lost the feel for his curve ball. But that which was lost can be found again. I say keep Sonny Gray and build the rotation around him.
Melson Varsovia: Yes. His trade value is at its nadir at this point. He will be more valuable as a trade chip if he can learn how to pitch the way you might expect from a Cy Young contender again, and we have hardly seen him fully develop as a pitcher. Once he is able to pitch like he has done from 2013-2015, he will have far more trade value and ought to be traded at that point, if the A’s are still struggling to contend for a playoff spot. Of course, if the A’s are putting a contending team every year for the next three, then the A’s should keep him until July 31, 2019, the last year before free agency hits for him.
Richard Paloma: Despite the subpar year, Sonny Gray is having with a 3-8 record and a whopping 5.18 ERA, but I still feel the A’s should hold on to him in hopes of a turnaround for 2017. The most convincing reason not to trade Gray is that he is locked up through 2020 and not eligible for arbitration until the conclusion of the 2019 season. Gray has shown signs of a recovery from his earlier woes with some of his latest outings. At only age 26, Gray is one who can pitch deep into games and has a long and successful career ahead if he stays healthy. There are many others on the A’s roster that are more likely to be trade bait since they’re in the last year of a contract such as Josh Reddick and Rich Hill.
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Finally, I have the last word on Gray.
Ana Kieu: He definitely needs to go. He is the A’s ace, but he doesn’t seem to fit the prototype of an ace. Don’t get me wrong, he has displayed some significant pitching in his career, counting his first All-Star game appearance last year, but this year is a different anecdote. The rest of his team doesn’t always back him up and that hinders him from picking up wins. There are plenty of games that the A’s could’ve (and should’ve) won. I’m not a close friend of his, but he most likely wants off the struggling team. And I don’t blame him if he does. Everybody wants to win a championship, including myself when I was a young basketball player. It’s time for the A’s to let go of the inconsistent players, make room for new prospects and begin the rebuilding process.
It’s clear I’m the odd one out, but I don’t mind. When you look at Gray’s ERA from the beginning of season until the end of June from last year to this year, it is drastically different. Last year, from April to the end of June, he posted a 1.52 ERA in the span of 106.5 IP. This year, from April to the end of June, it was 5.11 over the span of 77.5 IP. There were two different amounts of IP, but the numbers show you his struggles.
From the beginning of the season in April of last year until the end of June, Gray gave up five home runs. In that same span this year, he has given up 11. During the entire year last season against AL West opponents, Gray posted a 2.74 ERA in 98.6 IP. This year, he has posted a 5.38 ERA in 30.1 IP. Again, a much different amount of IP, but the numbers tell the story.
Gray might be dealt by the end of July. What are your thoughts?