It’s been a while since we’ve had a juicy Dodgers rumor (well, one relevant to this season, anyway). We still don’t really have one, but FOX’s Ken Rosenthal dropped an interesting tidbit before Saturday’s Dodgers-Cubs game.
Rosenthal opines Sonny Gray is an ideal trade acquisition for the Dodgers. The Oakland ace has steadily regained value since his dreadful and injury plagued 2016 campaign.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 28, 2017
“A’s right-hander Sonny Gray would appear a perfect fit for the Dodgers,” Rosenthal said (video above). “General Manager Farhan Zaidi knows him well from their days together in Oakland, and five of the Dodgers top seven pitchers are left-handed.”
However, Rosenthal adds sources within the organization aren’t sold on adding another starter.
“The Dodgers, though, are not convinced that they will need another starter. Some with the club believe a left-hander out of the bullpen is a much greater priority. Now, the Dodgers have one of the game’s top farm systems. But they built the club in the offseason with the intention of making it strong enough so they could avoid overpaying at the deadline.”
There’s a bit to dissect here. If the Dodgers explored the trade market for an ace, Gray makes sense. The connection to Zaidi is no different than last season’s Chris Archer rumors due to Andrew Friedman’s history in Tampa Bay.
Los Angeles has traded with Oakland (Rich Hill, Josh Reddick) and Tampa Bay (Logan Forsythe) recently, so it’s fair to value Zaidi and Freidman’s past relationships. That being so, it’s the second part of Rosenthal’s segment that’s important.
Alex Wood has vastly exceeded expectations. The same can be said of Brandon McCarthy. Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu are quality backend options. Julio Urias will likely be recalled this summer. While any team could justify adding a top of the rotation starter (especially one with the Dodgers’ resources), it’s not necessary.
It’s also intriguing that Rosenthal notes L.A. internally wants to add a lefty reliever. In a recent Q&A on our Twitter, I said the Dodgers should explore a reliever such as Tony Watson of Pittsburgh. The front office seems inclined to agree.
Tony Watson would be an excellent setup man. https://t.co/Ho3tTGwX4g
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) May 23, 2017
There’s also the obstacle of cost. Gray will arguably be the best starter available, plus he’s controllable. The Yankees, Astros and Cubs are among the contenders interested in adding an ace. Other teams with assets – Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Colorado, Minnesota – could throw their names in the hat given that acquiring Gray wouldn’t be a shortsighted move. In short, those teams have more motivation to meet Oakland’s demands than L.A. does.
While Gray has excelled lately, he’s not a sure thing either. He’s still not far from a disastrous 2016 season (5.69 ERA, 4.67 FIP in 117 innings), and injury red flags exist. Gray started the season on the DL with a strained lat muscle, but since returning, he looks healthy.
If the present Gray sticks around, Billy Beane can name his price in July. Gray is again inducing swinging strikes. His fastball velocity is sitting in the mid-90s. He’s re-discovered the performance that pegged him as one of baseball’s future stars two seasons ago. He’s only 27-years-old and controllable through 2019. Oh, and a rotation led by Clayton Kershaw, Gray and Wood would be a nightmare for other NL pennant hopefuls.
Sonny Gray….Geez…all from the 3rd inning today. ? pic.twitter.com/Dvub8dca5r
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 24, 2017
Column: In just a week, Sonny Gray may have completely altered the trade-market landscape. https://t.co/Fxk1LERqzj
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 25, 2017
As will be the case with most big name players, it’s easy to envision Gray in L.A. But the current circumstances cloud the picture. Maybe by the deadline, another injury has occured, Wood has dropped off and the Dodgers ramp up a pursuit for a frontline starter. Maybe the Dodgers identify this year as “the year” and spend their prospect capital.
Conditions change. For right now, I wouldn’t bet on Gray wearing Dodger blue in the near future.