7. Mets trade target Sonny Gray
I know what you're thinking already. The narrative around Sonny Gray is that he couldn't handle New York. While he certainly was not at his best during his time as a Yankee, I don't think that is true in the slightest. Gray pointed to the Yankees forcing him to throw too many sliders as the reason that he struggled so much in New York.
Since being traded to the Reds, Gray has relied heavily on his cutter, which has ended up being a very effective pitch for him. Gray has been a very solid arm for the bulk of his career with the Athletics and Reds, so I can understand where he is coming from. Gray has also pitched very well in his postseason career, so he's proven to pitch well when the pressure is at its highest.
Gray has pitched his last three seasons in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in baseball in Cincinnati. With that in mind, he's still been very good for them. He's gone 23-20 with a 3.49 ERA in 68 starts as a Red, striking out 432 batters in 366.2 innings pitched. His 10.6 K/9 is very impressive.
Gray also showed an ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. Great American Ballpark allows a lot of home runs, but Gray has allowed 1.0 HR/9 as a Red. The issue with Gray is his high walk rate of 3.5 BB/9, but his ability to keep the ball in the yard and strike guys out makes that issue not as bad as it may seem.
By trading for Gray, the Mets would be getting a high end number three starter to follow deGrom and Scherzer. He has four career postseason starts, three of which he pitched well in. He's a two-time all-star and has finished in the top seven of the Cy Young balloting twice in his career.
The 32 year old is set to make $10.2 million dollars this season, and has a team option for $12 million dollars next season. The Reds are going to be entering a rebuild so Gray figures to be on the move at some point in the near future as he is older with not much team control left. They can get more for him now than if they waited until the final year of his deal.
The good part about Gray's deal is it gives the Mets a way out. If the New York issues are real, the Mets can get rid of Gray immediately after the 2022 season. They don't have to exercise his team option. If he's the pitcher I believe he is, they will be very satisfied with paying him $12 million dollars next season as well.
Noah Syndergaard got $21 million dollars for one season after pitching just two innings in two seasons. Sonny Gray is set to make $22 million dollars for two seasons after three really solid seasons in Cincinnati. It's a no brainer for the Mets to try and add this guy to their rotation.