If the Reds trade Sonny Gray, the Cubs could have a path to an NL Central title.
The Cincinnati Reds had one of the best rotations in baseball in 2019. Headlined by Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, you’d be hard pressed to find a better group in baseball. With Bauer a free agent, the staff will take a hit – something the Chicago Cubs are all too familiar with themselves. To make things worse for a Reds team that was swept in the Wild Card round is the news that the team is now actively trying to trade Gray.
Gray has been one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons. He got his start in Oakland and posted a 3.42 ERA in five seasons there. He became a highly coveted starter and was moved to the Yankees in 2017, where he fell off the map for a spell. He did not mesh well in New York as they tweaked some of his pitch arsenal and it resulted in a 4.51 ERA during two seasons that included a lost spot in the rotation.
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When his time in New York ended, the Reds took a chance on him and he became one of the best starters in baseball again. In 2019, he posted a 2.87 ERA and earned an All-Star appearance along with a seventh-place finish in Cy Young voting. He threw for a 3.77 ERA in 2020 to follow up his career year.
With two years and $20 million left on his contract in Cincinnati, reports have emerged that the Reds are actively trying to move the starter. The rotation would take a huge blow if he was traded, but Gray has never had more value next to his name and could bring back a nice return of prospects.
The Reds were loaded with talent in 2020 but they couldn’t make any noise in the playoffs and didn’t live up to expectations. As a result, the front office has an eye on the future and rightfully so. Building a pipeline for sustainable success should be the top priority for a team that just made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
The Cubs would obviously benefit from looking to acquire Gray even though it’s highly unlikely. The rotation will most likely lose Jon Lester and Jose Quintana and we know Jed Hoyer is willing to make drastic changes. However, spending $20 million on a starter for the next two seasons would only be an interest if the team was going to make a championship push during that time.
Even if the Cubs don’t pursue Gray, it still impacts not only the team but the division as a whole. The NL Central is not projected to be as competitive as it has been the past few seasons. The Reds losing more firepower in their rotation would weaken the division as a whole. The good news about this is that if the Cubs enter a ‘retooling’ mode, the idea of competing for a division crown would not be so far fetched.