The Milwaukee Brewers continue their search for starting pitching this offseason. This search has once again taken them to Sonny Gray of the New York Yankees.
Back in 2017, the hot Milwaukee Brewers rumors were that the team was heavily interested in acquiring Sonny Gray from Oakland at the July deadline. But Oakland insisted on top prospect Lewis Brinson, the Brewers said no and Gray ended up going to New York.
That has worked out poorly for Gray as he’s declined considerably since joining the Yankees. Now he’s back on the trade market, with New York desperate to move him.
How Much Interest Do The Brewers Have?
According to Jon Morosi, they have at least a preliminary amount of interest.
It’s interesting how Morosi phrases this report. He’s simply stating that they have spoken with the Yankees about this. He doesn’t state that they are currently talking or have made any progress in talks, or how strongly the Brewers are pursuing this.
GM David Stearns speaks with pretty much everybody on every available player, so it comes as no surprise that he’s spoken with the Yankees. But does this mean that the Milwaukee Brewers are currently talking to the Yankees about Gray? That’s what we’re led to believe.
How Bad Has Gray Been?
Inside Yankee Stadium, he’s been atrocious. He had a 6.98 ERA in New York last season, with 11 home runs allowed and a 1.90 WHIP.
But on the road, Gray was his usual self, pitching to a 3.17 ERA, allowing only three home runs, and a 1.15 WHIP.
There’s just something about Yankee Stadium that bothers Gray. It’s not the short porch in right field. Even with the worst ERA of his career, Gray only allowed 14 homers all year, which was actually a career low over a full season for him. He’s still never allowed more than 19 home runs in a season.
Why Should The Brewers Want Gray?
Many thought that with Derek Johnson as the Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach, this team made a ton of sense for Gray as Johnson was his pitching coach in college back at Vanderbilt. But with Derek Johnson gone, would the Brewers still have interest?
It appears so, and even with Chris Hook as the new pitching coach and not Derek Johnson, Milwaukee still represents a change of pace from New York. Gray seems to be a lot like Zack Greinke, who didn’t necessarily want the big cities and thrived in the small markets like Kansas City and Milwaukee.
Gray came up with Oakland, the little brother of the two Bay Area franchises, and thrived there. With Milwaukee being the smallest media market in MLB, it’s another opportunity for Gray to thrive.
No one needs a change of scenery quite like Sonny Gray. And if that will get him back to his ace form that he had with Oakland, there’s no reason for the Brewers not to go after him.
Also, Gray is a ground ball pitcher. For his career, Gray has a 53.3% ground ball rate. To have success in Miller Park, keeping the ball on the ground is paramount.
What Does Gray’s Contract Look Like?
Gray has one more year of arbitration before reaching free agency, and he’s projected to earn $9.1 million in 2019. That’s a slight savings on what the Brewers would have owed Jonathan Schoop before they non-tendered him. Now with that contract gone, that frees up the room to add Gray.
While it’s only one season of control and David Stearns prefers guys with more than that, this is an incredible opportunity to buy low on an ace level pitcher. Gray won’t cost a top prospect now. He’ll barely cost a mid-level prospect, if at all.
While it’s not a guarantee he returns to ace form, simply getting out of New York should help him tremendously, as shown by his home-road splits.
The Milwaukee Brewers should absolutely try to get something done with the Yankees for Sonny Gray. While the severity of the interest is unknown, the interest certainly is there.