A Touch of Gray

The Yankees added a big piece for today and the future with the addition of Sonny Gray. I won’t claim Gray is an ace, but I think he slots into the tier just below. Here’s why the deal makes sense.

1- The Yankees needed a better starter than Caleb Smith and while Jamie Garcia could eat up innings, he isn’t going to do what Gray can. Assuming Tanaka’s resurgence is for real and Severino holds up, the Yankees have four good options to turn to in October. And Gray obviously taking the ball every fifth turn makes it a lot likelier they make it to October.

2- Next year Pineda and Sabathia are gone. Tanaka could opt out. Pitching has grown amazingly expensive and the Yankees can stay away from the free agent market and look to a guy like Chance Adams to join Gray, Severino, Montgomery, and maybe Tanaka in the rotation.

3- Consider the young lineup the Yankees can employ through at least the next two seasons-

Catcher: Sanchez
1B-Bird
2B-Castro
3B- Torres
SS-Didi
LF-Frazier
CF-Hicks
RF-Judge
DH-Gardner/TBD

Every one of those guys is under contract until at least 2020 with some much longer than that. Gardner is the only one over 30, and no one else would turn 30 while in that lineup. Assuming Frazier and Torres work out, the Yankees don’t need to go to free agency for a bat until 2020 at the earliest. They could, but they don’t have to. They also have guys like Wade to plug in around the diamond and Andujar to cover third. They traded two guys who could turn into good hitters, but they also have that covered for a few years. And by keeping Florial, they kept their highest-ceiling hitter outside of Torres or Frazier.

4- Don’t sleep on the international money they’ve added. They are aggressively pursuing the top international market to try to develop more prospects. This helps with that.

5- The guy I think they will miss the most is Kapriellian. He’s a big time arm, but he has also been an injury disaster. He won’t be back before the middle of the next year at the earliest. He may haunt them, but this isn’t a terrible risk to take because his ceiling isn’t that much higher than Grays and the Yankees have Gray through 2019.

6- Finally think about the 40-man roster. The Yankees face a crunch there and this will help mitigate that. It would be wonderful to keep every prospect, but the reality is you can’t. Depending on their age when you draft them, you have four or five years before you have to protect them.

Some will see this as evidence that the Yankees are turning back to their old ways. I would disagree with that. Adding Gray gives them a cost-controllable pitcher for next year. It will allow them to get under the luxury tax and they have plenty of youth to refresh their player pool. I think we should tip our caps to Brian Cashman. When you consider where this team was a year ago and how he has transformed it, he deserves our praise.