With the GM Meetings underway, initial trade rumors are beginning to leak out and for Brewers rumors, there’s a juicy one regarding a possible trade target.
Heading into this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers have a clear and obvious need to upgrade their starting rotation. Their depth was tested in 2019 and with the free agent losses (at the moment) of Jordan Lyles and Gio Gonzalez, as well as the trade of Chase Anderson to Toronto, that depth is pretty thin.
They’re going to need to add to this group, whether by trade or by free agency. With some of the payroll availability being held up for the pursuits of Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas, the Brewers likely aren’t going to pursue the top starting pitchers on the free agent market, such as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.
If they look to the trade route, the Rockies could make an interesting partner.
Looking to the Rockies
With this report, it appears likely that the Colorado Rockies could sell off some of their pitchers.
The Rockies are at an interesting crossroads. They were the Crew’s adversaries in the 2018 NLDS, and were promptly swept, but invested heavily that offseason. In 2019, everything went the wrong way and they finished in the basement of the NL West, just one year removed from being in a Game 163 for the West division title against the Dodgers.
With ownership publicly admitting to a lack of payroll flexibility this offseason and coming off a bad season, they’re likely to try to shed some payroll and retool. That could mean trading away some of their young starting pitchers that struggled in 2019 but carried them with dominance in 2018.
Jon Gray and his contract
Jon Gray is one such option. Although he was the weak link in the rotation in 2018, he had solid seasons in 2017 and 2019. Over 150 innings this past year, Gray had a 3.84 ERA in 25 starts. His walk totals bumped up a little bit, but his strikeout numbers were around his career average.
While Gray would not be an “ace” by any definition, the 28-year-old is a solid arm that can slot into the middle of the Brewers rotation and be a steady presence with some good upside.
Gray’s 2019 season ended prematurely when he suffered a broken foot in August, but he is expected to be 100% and ready to go for spring training in February.
Gray has two more years of team control as he goes through arbitration. He’s projected to make $5.6 million in 2020, which would make him the highest paid member of the Brewers pitching staff.
While the report did not specifically mention the Brewers as a team interested in Gray, GM David Stearns is well known for turning over every rock, being involved in every conversation on every available player, and being very thorough. The chances are pretty good that Stearns has at least had a conversation with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about Gray’s availability and asking price.
Gray fits the mold of the kind of player the Milwaukee Brewers would covet, and his contract fits in nicely as well. Stearns has always seemed to go for the undervalued player and get the most out of someone who either wasn’t used correctly with his previous team or has found something the team could change to make him better.
Gray was the 3rd overall selection in 2013 and there’s a lot of potential and upside in his arm. If Stearns and the Brewers see something extra they can get out of him, don’t be surprised to see them get deep into discussions for Gray and possibly even land him this offseason.
While Gray has underwhelmed at times, pitching in Coors Field is no easy task, and although Miller Park isn’t much easier, at least it’s not the altitude that’s the problem in Milwaukee.