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New York Mets: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of a Sonny Gray trade

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Minnesota Twins on September 27, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Minnesota Twins on September 27, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Sonny Gray is reportedly available. There’s some good, some bad, and some ugly when it comes to how things might go with the New York Mets.

The New York Mets continue their quest to add quality starting pitchers this offseason. Most notably, they are still legitimate contenders for the services of reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. Additionally, the team has also been mentioned as potential suitors for veterans such as Jake Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka, and others.

While any of these non-Bauer candidates could provide depth behind All-Stars Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, the team would still benefit greatly from an injection of top-level talent.

A recent NY Post Article made a passing mention of another intriguing player who the Mets could target via trade: former Cy Young candidate Sonny Gray. Interestingly enough, the Reds’ have also reportedly working hard to move their starter.

Does a move for Gray make any sense for New York? Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly aspects of a potential union.

The Good

Sonny great has been consistently excellent throughout his career. The two-time All-Star has a dazzling 3.54 career ERA. He also boasts a .543 career winning percentage as a starter while recording 150+ strikeouts in four of his eight major league seasons. As recently as 2019, the Cincinnati Reds’ star led his team through a sub-3 ERA, an All-Star berth, and a top-seven finish in the Cy Young race.

His presence on the Mets’ roster would give the team a legitimate three-headed monster in their starting rotation. It would also allow the franchise to feel much less pressure to rush a recovering Syndergaard.

The Mets, who suffered through abysmal production in the back of their 2020 rotation, would solidify their rotation through this move. Assuming the team lost out on the Bauer sweepstakes, it would allow deGrom to take his usual place as the ace of the staff, while both Stroman and Gray locked things down behind him.

If the team were to land Bauer and still pursue a trade, they would have a historically great rotation.

The Bad

One of the biggest drawbacks to a union between Gray and Flushing is the fact that he could only be acquired through a trade. While the aforenoted Bauer, Odorizzi, Tanaka, and many others, could be added for nothing more than a financial commitment, Gray would require parting with valuable assets.

Considering the recent buzz around the Mets is due solely to the emergence of new, multi-billionaire, owner Steve Cohen, it would seem the best path toward roster improvement would come through free agency.

Fortunately, the franchise now has the richest owner in the sport. Unfortunately, they did not magically add additional trade pieces. Capitalizing on the opportunity to add a key free agent without sacrificing pieces from their farm system would clearly be advantageous.

For the record, if a trade were to take place, one would have to assume that shortstop deficient  Reds would be seriously interested in Amed Rosario.

The Ugly

There is one elephant in the room that looms larger than Gray’s price tag: his worst seasons came under the New York spotlight as a member of the crosstown Yankees.

Gray’s normally consistent level of production plummeted to a 4.51 ERA and sub-.500 record in his two seasons in the Bronx (2017-2018). Strangely enough, the starter has been stellar during his time with the smaller market Athletics and Reds. His only real blemishes came under the bright lights of NYC.

Could there have been other factors that led to this skew? Certainly. The Yankees have a notoriously short outfield wall, making their ballpark one of the most difficult to pitch in. That being said, the Mets have serious reason to wonder whether Gray is most comfortable with less pressure. It would be imperative they did their due diligence in evaluating the starter’s mindset during any talks.

Conclusion

The Mets would certainly be most wise to exhaust every available option in the free agency market. However, should the team miss out on Bauer, the market for rotation players becomes much less exciting.

In a vacuum, I would prefer having Gray on the roster in 2021 than a combination of Rosario and Odorizzi, Tanaka, James Paxton, Jose Quintana, or any other top free agent pitcher. However, the prospects of Gray struggling in New York are concerning.

In a COVID world where interviews and time spent face-to-face has been replaced with Facetime and Zoom calls, getting a proper feel for Gray’s mindset will be uniquely challenging.

For the first time in recent memory, I trust Cohen, Alderson, and the rest of the Mets’ front office. If they are confident in their discussions, I would welcome a deal that brought the Reds’ starter to Queens.

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