Chicago Cubs: Adding Sonny Gray could be the finishing touch for team

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 30: Sonny Gray
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 30: Sonny Gray /

After acquiring Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox, reports have indicated the Chicago Cubs may not be done searching for another starting pitcher.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported early Friday afternoon that the Chicago Cubs have interest in Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray, even after dealing for Jose Quintana.

The Chicago Cubs’ rotation has struggled this season, and Quintana will give them a much-needed boost in the second half of the season. Though he struggled to begin the season, he’s put together a 2.70 ERA over the course of his last seven starts.

The Cubs currently boast one of the youngest starting lineups in baseball, but their rotation is also one of the oldest. So it’s not surprising to see Theo Epstein aggressively pursuing young, cost-controlled arms.

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What would it take to get Gray?

The good news for the Cubs is that Gray might not cost as much as Quintana did. In fact, that would almost have to be the case if the Cubs hope to make a deal, considering they just shipped their number one overall prospect to the White Sox.

With Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease now gone, third baseman Jeimer Candelario is now the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect. To get Gray from Oakland, Candelario would almost certainly have to headline the package.

The A’s might also ask for one of the Cubs’ top remaining pitching prospects as part of any potential deal. And at this point, none of those guys are untouchable. Think Oscar De La Cruz, Trevor Clifton or Thomas Hatch.

It’s also possible Oakland would want one of the Cubs’ big-league players. The prime candidates would probably be Javier Baez, Addison Russell (return to Oakland?), Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. or Ian Happ.

At this point, we don’t know if the rumored trade talks have gone anywhere. But both Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell have seen some serious regression since their last full major league seasons. That could play a role here.

What would Gray bring to the Cubs?

Currently Gray is 4-4 with an even 4.00 ERA. Though that may look too enticing to Cubs fans, Gray has picked things up recently. In his last six starts, he’s pitched to the tune of a 3.39 ERA. So he’s trending in the right direction.

Gray, 27, is 42-35 with a 3.49 ERA and a 3.61 FIP in his five-year career. The biggest concern with Gray is his health. Over the last couple of seasons, the right-hander has struggled to stay off the disabled list.

If the Cubs pulled off a trade for Gray, and he managed to stay healthy, it could make for a lethal rotation moving forward. Both Gray and Jose Quintana are signed through 2020.

Next: Why question Theo Epstein?

Prospects are still…just prospects

One word that always floats around social media after big trades is “fleece.” It’s important to remember no matter how highly-touted a prospect is, he’s still just a prospect. Talent and hype don’t always translate into superstardom at the big-league level.

When you’re the defending world champs, you don’t hoard assets, you spend them. That’s part of being in “win now” mode. You make the necessary moves to improve the team, or you stand pat and watch as other teams make upgrades.

Could Eloy Jimenez become a perennial all-star some day? Absolutely. But you can’t know that for sure. What you do know is the type of production you’re going to get out of Jose Quintana. And, for the most part, you know what Sonny Gray would bring to the table, too. An aging rotation is one of the biggest areas of concern for the Chicago Cubs. Well, here’s your solution.