The Seattle Mariners are in the midst of a rebuild, but that hasn’t stopped them from adding quality Major League talent.
Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Yankees are on the verge of dealing former All-Star starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The 29-year-old is officially in the final year of his contract after settling with the Yankees to avoid arbitration this past Friday.
Of the rumored “few teams” involved in talks for Gray, the Mariners have been a team to pop up more than once. It’s a potential trade our staff has pondered over a handful of times as well. Despite the Mariners’ current rebuild, Gray still seemed to make a bit of sense for them.
With Seattle’s roster seemingly a bit more locked-in, and their recent signing of Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi, it’s become harder to view Gray as a fit at all. Perhaps Heyman’s name-drop of the Mariners simply stems from earlier reports of the team being ‘in’ on Gray, when, in reality, they haven’t had discussions for some time.
That said, Gray does still offer some value to the Mariners. It’s still likely that at some point before Opening Day, Seattle will deal middle-of-the-rotation starter Mike Leake. This would then open a spot for Gray in a rotation that currently bolsters Leake, Kikuchi, Marco Gonzales, Félix Hernández, and Wade LeBlanc.
Of course, this fails to account for the likes of Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson, and Justin Dunn, all of whom will likely make appearances at the Major League level throughout 2018. Barring injury, Gray’s presence in the rotation could assist in blocking at least one of the three aforementioned pitchers from potentially reaching the MLB level at an appropriate time.
With Gray, however, the hope is that he’s only a Mariner until July at the latest. Acquiring Gray in general is a gamble, though the risk is even higher for the Mariners because they would be banking on him bouncing back and making them a profit on the trade market.
The cost is the biggest mystery in these talks for Gray. Last month, it was reported that the Yankees asked the Reds for top prospect Taylor Trammell – a price far too rich for the Mariners to pay, especially given what they exactly want out of Gray.
Ideally, the Mariners would want to get Gray in a swap for Edwin Encarnación. But a team looking for Gray to actually impact their rotation in an attempt to contend could easily outbid that offer.