Sonny Gray is on the trade market. No, that is not a typo. No, it’s not April 1st, either. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported late on Monday night that rival clubs report that the Cincinnati Reds are open to moving the All-Star starting pitcher.

There are a million questions here, almost all of them begin with the words Why would the Reds do this? Sonny Gray is among the best pitchers in the league. In his first season with Cincinnati after being acquired from the New York Yankees, Gray posted a 2.87 ERA in 175.1 innings and he was a National League All-Star. In 2020 his season was strong, outside of his first two starts in September where he allowed 11 runs in 4.0 innings that nearly doubled his season ERA. In his two seasons with Cincinnati he’s posted a 3.07 ERA over 231.1 innings with 277 strikeouts.

When he was brought to Cincinnati via trade he also signed an extension. That extension is about as good of a deal for a player that’s beyond arbitration in baseball, too. In 2021 the Reds owe Gray just over $10M. The same thing for 2022. And in the 2023 season they have a team option for $12M. Three years and just over $32M for one of the better pitchers in the league is an outright bargain.

One could make the argument that if Sonny Gray were paid like Max Scherzer, who is making $35M per year, that it could be possible to use that salary in a way that might (let’s stress might here) be a tad more productive. While pitchers certainly can and do get injured, it’s hard to look at the market and see how a team could go about planning a better way to spend the same money they owe to Gray and come out ahead of things instead of just giving it to Gray.

The Reds have lost assistant pitching coach Caleb Cotham this offseason. They almost assuredly are losing Trevor Bauer in free agency. Anthony DeSclafani is less likely to be lost to free agency simply because bringing him back won’t cost nearly as much – but like all free agents, they are far more likely to leave than to return.

So why would they also be interested in the idea of losing Sonny Gray, too? Well, it’s tough to make a lot of sense with that idea. But just because a team is willing to listen to offers doesn’t mean they are going to accept an offer. If an alien came down and took over the body of A.J. Preller, They Live style, and decided that a Sonny Gray for Fernando Tatis Jr. deal made sense, then you get that paperwork filed with MLB offices faster than a Billy Hamilton stolen base in 2013 happened.

Perhaps this particular writer just isn’t operating at full capacity at 1:15am as he writes this, but I am having a tough time finding a good deal that would make sense from both sides that would involve Sonny Gray being traded away. The return would have to be enormous for it to make any sense for the Reds to go for it. And given the make up of the team, it would also have to be rather specific, too – given the other players the team has locked up long term. That’s not to say the deal isn’t out there, but it’s tough to see. But hey – it’s 2020. Who knows what can happen?

77 Responses

  1. doofus

    Unlike some of the hacks writing about baseball, Rosenthal does not blow smoke for the sake of making a deadline.

    I like to watch Sonny Gray pitch. He really spins that yakker.

    Interesting do think of the possible deals…

  2. LDS

    If this is a preview of Krall’s “leadership”, we’re in for a world of hurt. Time to find a new team to follow. Maybe Gray said something that hurt David Bell’s feelings, like “dude, you’re a crappy manager”. Maybe Gray is part of a Lindor package because we all know that sacrificing the future is a solid strategy for a year’s worth of an all star’s career. Look how well it worked with Bauer.

    • Colt Holt

      You know, Lindor is an interesting idea. I am patently opposed to trading the farm for Lindor. If Sonny Grey could be the bulk of a Lindor trade, I would not hesitate to buy I’ll the trigger. I assume Indians will want younger, more controllable talent, but I would be on board.

      • AllTheHype

        Sonny Gray, with three years of control and a cheap contract, has light years more value than Lindor and his expensive one year contract.

      • doofus

        Why assume Lindor? I think the Indians would not need Sonny Gray, but a bat for the OF or a third baseman.

        Why not assume something out of the box like Sonny Gray for Royce Lewis? Twins need a pitcher like Sonny and already have a SS.

        Or how about Gray for Trevor Story and Kyle Freeland?

      • Shawn

        I wouldn’t trade Gray straight up for Lindor.

      • greenmtred

        You’d trade Gray for one year of Lindor? Who would be pitching for the Reds? Wouldn’t that just solve–temporarily–one problem by creating another, larger, problem?

  3. Colt Holt

    Reds botched not trading disco. Even as a potential star, he was going to be delivering on non playoff teams. He should have been traded as a part of the last rebuild, and wound up with no prospects and no on field results. If Gray can net a short stop of the future, take it and run. As long as we have Kyle Boddy, the team should be capable of developing pitchers internally. We haven’t developed a star hitter since Joey Votto, despite having multiple top 10 draft choices and even top 10 prospects overall. Offense needs a jump start. If value is there, make it happen.

    • Doc

      I thought Garcia is the SS of the future. Lindor’s future as a Red ends in October 2021.

    • AllTheHype

      Agree, Reds should see what the market is for Gray. If they can net a top 10 overall prospect or two top 50s, they should consider it.

      • LDS

        So another decade of highly touted “prospects” e.g., Greene, Senzel, you name it. How many have made a difference thus far? Gray has proven himself. Pitching isn’t as good as touted. Does anyone really believe that Lorenzen and Mahle can replace Gray & Bauer. I’d love to be wrong but I wouldn’t bet that I am.

      • Tomn

        Top 10 and 2 50s prospects for Gray? No way. I want active major leaguerS who are able to contribute. And for more than just one year. So no to Lindor. The above trade for Story and Freeland sounds interesting though still not enough. Maybe package Gray AND others (Acquino, Garcia, Casali) for a nice big productive package? Perhaps I’m over-estimating his value, but his value for the Reds last season was awfully high and no reason to think next year will be different, though he is another year older.

    • JayTheRed

      Here is the problem.
      You probably lose Bauer
      Then you trade away gray.
      There are not good replacements out there.
      So lets say you get a good hitter for gray… Now we not only have maybe a better hitting team. but maybe not. but now we have barely any starting pitching and I am sorry with the guys we have I would not count on making the playoffs.

      Rotation of Castillo, Miley, Mahle, and then two new guys from our current team kinda scares me a lot. That is putting a lot of faith into guys who have been ok at best.

      The only way I trade Sonny is if we are blown away with a proven player that is in the big league.
      I am super nervous now I hope this is just a rumor and nothing more comes of it cause Gray is one of my fav. players on the Reds.

      • That that had had

        Bo Bichette type? Or maybe Biggios kid?

  4. Swayback8

    I don’t see a trade that would make me give up Gray, but I do think it’s a good idea to see what teams are willing to give up.

  5. wutinthehail

    Shouldn’t they be open to trading anyone?

  6. Klugo

    If true, they must be pretty confident in what they have in the stables.

    • JB

      Remember this is the Reds Klugo. Do you have any confidence in them?

  7. Scott C

    Solid frontline pitchers are hard to find, so for me I would definitely have to be overwhelmed by a trade package. Now if Bauer is resigned then this would make a little more sense but not by much.

    • JayTheRed

      If Bauer is resign I am a little more ok with trading away another top notch pitcher but honestly Until Bauer is a red again I can’t see it being a good idea to trade him unless they are really blown away by an offer.

      This also makes me wonder if they think Greene or Lodolo are ready for the Bigs.

  8. AllTheHype

    It makes a lot of sense to make Gray available, given that there are very few, if any, high end starting pitchers available after Bauer. It is therefore a seller’s market. If some team wants to overpay in terms of prospect capital, the Reds should go for it.

  9. Mike in Ottawa

    Discos injury history kept him from being traded. Unless all you wanted was a bucket of batting practice balls.

    With the financial difference between the big market and small market, I am feeling less confident in seeing another WS in my lifetime.

    • Colt Holt

      Disco didn’t have an injury history in Nov 2016 that kept him from being traded. The reds had a concocted idea that the value for him was the one year (2020) that he could anchor the playoff team, so they decided to let him pitch for a rebuilding team for three years in hopes on delivering in 2020 when it counted.

  10. SultanofSwaff

    To me this screams money trouble. Let’s face it, you’re not going to find any takers for the contracts of Joey, Moose, Nick, or Geno after the years they had. The next logical piece is Sonny.

    The Reds are well positioned to win a weak division in 2021. This would kneecap that effort and be reason enough for every Reds fan to question their allegiance to this franchise.

    • Sliotar

      @SultanofSwaff

      Speculation, but that’s what we do here. Excellent post.

      Taking your view a little further … it also hints, perhaps, that 2021 isn’t going to see MLB ballparks filled close to capacity.

      The Reds have a real chance to win the NL Central in 2021, IMO … with Gray and either Lindor or Correa (who the Astros are now shopping).

      Probably would not take “the farm” to land either SS, either, the way teams are looking to move salary.

    • doofus

      It can also be said that the Reds were well positioned to win a weak division in 2020.

      True, it could be financially motivated. It could also be because that after Bauer there is not a strong FA market of starting pitchers available. Nick Krall acknowledges that and is doing his due diligence.

    • Matt WI

      Right there with you Sultan. The most logical answer becomes pending money concerns. Flipping a big asset for the right package is never a terrible thing to consider, but yikes.

    • jon vera

      Geno contract is not high. Sonny not making anything either. $10m for a pitcher is nothing.

    • Birch Yard

      You have it right. Team looking to cut the budget. A player with a low contract in today’s market would be easy to trade. It’s all about money. Last season the Reds make a big investment, didn’t work out. Virus, added salary at trade deadline, no fans in the grandstand and no world champion. The perfect storm.

  11. Jack

    I guess you always listen but hard to see a deal that wouldn’t cost them as much as they gain. Does this mean they’ve given up on competing already? If thats the case I guess getting a haul of top prospects would be the goal

    • That that had had

      I remember the haul of prospects the Reds got for Chapman.

      This front office is far from clever.

  12. doofus

    Perhaps before any of us jump off a bridge, why not acknowledge that Nick Krall is doing his due diligence in regards to possibly dealing Sonny Gray and improving the roster. After all you have to give up quality to get quality.

    Multiple times I have read on this forum that “no player is untouchable.” I agree.

    I like Sonny Gray. I admit that dealing him would open a hole in the rotation, but I would think that Krall and Derek Johnson like the starters they have now and believe Greene and Lodolo are ready to contribute. Plus they may also get a pitchers in return.

    • IndyRedsFan

      I agree with this 100%. A top starting pitcher with a bargain contract should bring back a haul.
      Krall wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t asking what teams are willing to give up for Gray.
      If you can fill the hole a shortstop and get a couple other valuable pieces, then you have to listen.

    • citizen54

      Highly doubtful that Greene and Lodolo are going to be contributors to the Reds next year. Green pitched 69 innings in 2018 and is coming off major surgery meaning his innings are probably going to be capped at 90-100. Not sure how many innings Lodolo pitched in college but he has about 20 innings of pro ball experience and his innings are going to be capped as well. In addition neither of them have pitched above A ball. At this point we don’t know if either can get guys out in AA, let alone the majors.

      • DaveCT

        His innings were in Lo-A ball, at Dayton. It’d be very u wise to rush him. He should have the chance to build innings snd deal with adversity in the minors.

  13. RedsFaninPitt

    Gray for Boegarts or Trea Turner? Could be worth it if you think Lodolo is ready and one of Lorenzon/Antone ready to join rotation.

    • JayTheRed

      Not sold on Lorenzen being a solid contributor as a starter for a whole season. Antone looks pretty good but again we only have a really small sample size. I mostly wonder if they feel Lodolo or Greene are ready to make the jump. I mean it is possible.

      My faith in the team making a fair trade though is pretty shakey. Krall most likely didn’t make their good moves they made in recent years. Its really to soon to make a judgement about him though.

  14. enfueago

    I can’t see a deal that makes sense from a baseball perspective unless its part of a larger swap of multiple major league pieces from both sides. If its true just to consider moving Gray for prospects it looks a lot more like a major effort to cut payroll it to the bone and give up on competing for the next several years.

    • JayTheRed

      If the Reds are starting to do a salary dump of productive and good players then I am done with this team. I’m not going to wait for 1 year out of 5 to 10 years to be a contender. There are other teams out there that I have some mild interest in. Like
      Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and White Sox. If this team goes back into rebuilding mode I am done.

      • Tom

        If this team thinks it has the talent to compete with the likes of the Braves and Dodgers they are wrong. Sonny Gray is a good 30 y.o pitcher. How many years will he continue to produce at a high level? I would rather the Reds be more like Tampa Bay. Competitive year after year, even in same division as NY and BOS, because they manage their roster well. Or they could be like the Bengals, afraid to let go of players like A.J. Green who is no longer the player he was. What has he done for the Bengals this year? Typically stupid Bengals. Can he block an edge rusher? They should have flipped him for a draft pick before the decline. So you might miss sometimes by letting a player go too early. Better than too late after the value plunges. I know this is a Reds forum, but you don’t have to look far to see the mistakes losing sports franchises like the Bengals make.

  15. Steve Stockman

    I think this smells of the Reds lost money in 2020 and are nervous about losing more in 2021. If this is true you are not trading to get better. You are trading to dump salary so you don’t lose $20 million next year. My thought is if you do this you should blow the whole thing up.

    Trade Gray, Suarez, Castillo, Lorenzen, Iggy and Winker. If you trade all 6 of these players you should net 6 or 7 top 100 prospects and 4-5 in the 100-300 range.

    Now you have a base of Senzel, India, Garcia, Stephenson, Lodolo, Greene, Antone and these trade pieces that will be ready to compete from 2023 – 2026. The Reds are on the hook for $59 million in salary for 2023 but there is plenty of room to add the FA necessary to fill the holes. They are on the hook for just $11 million in 2024 if the above players are traded.

  16. Stock

    Alternatively, the Reds may feel a rotation of Castillo, Miley, Antone, Mahle and Lorenzen is quite capable and feel if they get the right pieces for Gray (Gray, Garcia plus others for Story and Marquez)

    You would think Marquez would be a perfect fit in Colorado given that he is a GB pitcher. But he isn’t. He should be traded. The Reds would be wise to pursue him.

  17. Redgoggles

    I’d hate to see him go, but if the Reds are dealing from their strength to shore up weaknesses I think it is a smart strategy. They better get a haul for him though, considering his contract, length, and overall value.

    • Greenfield Red

      I heard Sonny got a speeding ticket. That means the Reds will trade him back to the Yankees for the rights to Bucky Dent

  18. Mark Moore

    Open to vs. actively shopping are two completely different things. You always listen. Aside from Joey, nobody is untradeable. And I say Joey strictly because of his no trade clause and previous statements to that effect.

    Would really take a haul in my opinion. I doubt anyone will offer what it would take.

  19. Magnum 44

    He’s not going anywhere, but everyone is available including Castillo a good franchise does not fall in love with players they are pieces……….The teams like the Rays play chess while we play checkers

  20. SaveTheFarm

    Fake News!

    Not buying any of this noise.

  21. Rednat

    Hitting is the new pitching in 2020 and beyond so I say go for it. there are some many good pitchers out there and so few good position players. what the reds need now are players that can field the position and put the ball in play. these are hard to find . As much as I love Sonny Gray he IS REPLACABLE. if we can get some good young position player prospects I say go for it.

  22. west larry

    This rumor scares me. We may have already lost Bauer, and if we trade Grey we will be left with a rotation of Castillo, Miley, Mahle- which I like-but then we pick two of Greene (and he is really green) , maybe Antone and Lorenzen would be the other two starters. Disco is damaged goods.If we could get a really good return for him (Grey) that included a decent shortstop, I would swallow my pride and go for it. I hope we don’t trade for several prospects (most prospects turn out to be suspects). Like many others here, I suspect that this may be a money influenced trade.

  23. Jimbo44CN

    So back to 2018 we go. Not a lot of pitching, and a bad record. Heck Billy Hamiltons available, why not get him back too! Am being kind of facetious but trading a known, very good starting pitcher for position players and hoping that Lorenzen, or Greene, or even Mahle(and I like him) will be able to make up for the loss of Gray and Bauer is absolutely nuts. What happened last year in acquiring Moose and Castellanos was a mistake, but this would be much, much worse.

    • rembrant

      Just what would be the point? the strategy? Hope this ain’t it. The Reds hitting was way below normal, but the pitching was good. BAUER was Cy YOUNG G ray, an all star,and Castillo was good even without run support.
      Over decades, the Reds swapped prospects for veterans, then swapped veterans for prospects, then thy gave hitters for pitching or visa versa.
      Fine, unless yo lose every deal

  24. Greenfield Red

    Wouldn’t this be Rebuild 4.3_A since 2015?

    When I think of the reasons I have all but given up on the Reds and baseball, it’s the continued short sited botched action of the front office. From not trading Frazier when his value was so high because of the Cincinnati all-start game, to not trading an outfielder (whose name I forget) while his value was high because of his upcoming bobblehead promotion, to giving away Chapman, to last summer’s trading away of badly needed left handed pitching prospects for more .220 hitters.

    It’s just not worth is for me. I come to Doug’s two websites to keep up on the news, but I don’t expect anything to change.

    • Greenfield Red

      The Outfielder mentioned above who was not traded, probably due to his upcoming bobblehead was Jonny Gomes.

  25. Melvin

    Not time to panic. Just makes sense to listen. Never know what a great package we might get in return….and it would take a great one.

  26. Bob Purkey

    I don’t think that the “fix” is all that difficult.
    -Trade Suarez, which should get a very nice return. Put Moose back at 3B.
    -Sign Kolton Wong to play 2B. The Cards shockingly did not exercise his option, A terrific 2B in the field, he makes contact and runs well. They can certainly afford him considering they won’t have Bauer’s salary on the books.
    -Sign a SS for 1 or 2 years. Andrelton Simmons is a good fit and shouldn’t cost a ton. Garcia will be ready in a year or 2.
    – Joey plays against RHP only. Platoon Catellanos with him when not playing RF.

    SUMMARY: 1 trade that could get a number of things in return, 2 decent FA signings that won’t break the bank. KEEP SONNY GRAY.

  27. Schottzie

    It would be an encouraging sign if the Reds traded both Gray and Suarez. The Reds need to get younger and cheaper and both could bring back 4 to 5 quality players with potentially 6 years of control. One can’t imagine this franchise spending $145 million a year to keep finishing in 2nd place. Taking what could be close to $100 million off the ledgers by moving these two, likely the two largest contracts they could actually move at this point, would make sense.

  28. Tom

    Depends on what the Reds could get in return for Gray. As I have mentioned before,the Reds are more than one player away from being a serious contender. And pitchers are unpredictable. At 30 y.o. Gray is near his peak value. If they could net a couple of position players who can hit for power and average, I think they have to be interested. I would rather have Blake Snell from TB. Three years younger and looks like he is just starting to hit his peak. The way he looked against the Dodgers in the WS, he could be a breakout pitcher next year.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Breakout? If I am not mistaken he already has a Cy Young. Pretty sure he has already broken out.

    • doofus

      Snell is also available.

      I believe it was 2018 when he won the Cy.

  29. Kevarino

    Sonny Gray is a steal at 10 million bucks a year. Who are we going to get in return that we don’t end up having to pay out in salary? Unless it’s for Bieber and Lindor, I hope we don’t do it

  30. Louis Cook

    Keep Sonny and deal Disco and Winker. Reds may not get blue-chip in return but they are both surplus.

  31. Aaron B.

    Ken Rosenthal is absolutely an agent of false information peddling. He was floating Adam Dunn trade rumors back in 2006 when he was coming off a great season that tailed off due to a thumb injury he played through. In the off season KR floated a rumor Dunn was being shopped around. Dunn was still in full team control and the fans loved him, Griffey loved him, there was no substance to that rumor and I called KR out in an email and I basically cussed him out for trying to stir trouble and he replied and said “OK, tough guy, whatever you say.” LOL. The guy is not in any inside loop with the Reds, don’t get caught up in this nonsense please.

  32. Hanawi

    I doubt this will happen. They should always listen but someone will have to blow them away to deal a top starting pitcher with a reasonable contract.

    Reds, though, are in win now mode. They have basically 2-3 years with lots of sunk cost money to Votto, Moose, Suarez, Castellanos, etc. They should be adding to go for it, though not at the expense of their already barren farm system. Go for Realmuto on a 3 year high dollar contract. Overpay for Semian or Gregorius on a 1 or 2 year deal.

  33. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Just because the team says they are open to trading a player that doesn’t mean they are going to trade the player. Everyone needs to remember, what are we going to get back. Gray for a minor leaguer? No way! Gray for someone like Bellinger? I don’t think the Dodgers would ever agree with it.

    One thing with trades I always thought, “Trade from a viewpoint of strength.” I don’t see any area we are strong in besides pitching. And losing Bauer, which is almost probable, will only be weakening our pitching. And, I don’t see our prospect list to be that strong where we can give up much there and still have a strong prospect list.

    I just don’t see any strength of ours where I can see us trading from.

    Possibly on a separate note, but mentioning it because Gray is a pitcher. One thing I believe we do need to be weary of is what happened when Jocketty was here. Toward the end there, he had us set to lose our top 4 starters within a year of each other. I always felt we should have held on to 2 of them; we only held onto one. And, that was the one I wouldn’t have held on to.

    Also, we need to consider what Boddy is doing with the minor leaguers. I would think after another season or two, we should be seeing our minor league pitching at minimum excelling in the minors if not starting to get up to the big club. I mean, if we can get some good young arms to come up from the minors, then we could very well trade some pitching.

  34. Still a Red

    Maybe his last two starts indicate injury?

    • Matt WI

      If so… how does that help with the idea of trading him in terms of return value? Or the Reds should execute a trade in bad faith by passing off an injured player without acknowledging it? Should hope not.

      • Greenfield Red

        Seems to have happened to the Reds a couple of times recently (highly rated infield prospect from the Mets comes to mind).

    • Still a Red

      Didn’t mean to imply that the Reds would do anything untoward. Just saying there could be no other reason to move him. You’re probably losing Bauer, why throw your next best proven pitcher away too, for what? A great hitter? Maybe, but you’d be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  35. Roger Garrett

    Sonny is one of the few players on this roster that has any value to other teams so its not surprising to me he could be available.Of course we would need equal value in return so the question is who out there is cheap and under control for 3 years that can hit?Every team needs hitters that I just described and if you have them you won’t trade them.