3. Jon Gray, RHP Colorado Rockies
It seems almost inevitable that the Colorado Rockies are going to be sellers this summer. They did absolutely nothing this winter except possibly tick off their franchise player just a year after handing him a massive contract. The Rockies are a mediocre team with quite a few bad contracts and players who are slowly exiting their prime.
The combination of the bad contracts and aging players leave Colorado without a ton of tradable pieces (at least pieces they’ll actually consider moving), but Jon Gray is definitely one of them.
The 28-year-old pitcher enters the 2020 season just two years from free agency. It remains unlikely Colorado will be competitive in those two years, so trading him this summer will most definitely be on the table.
Gray is a solid #3 starter with the upside to be a #2 arm, similar to that of Trevor Bauer. Gray set a career-high 4.5 bWAR in 2019 and has a career 3:1 K/BB ratio. Gray averages more than a strikeout per inning and owns a 3.77 FIP.
Gray has some injury issues in his past and has never thrown more than 172.1 innings. But in 4 of his 5 full MLB seasons, Gray has pitched 150 big league innings or more. He isn’t a 200 inning workhorse type, but in 2020, a pitcher doesn’t have to be.
Gray is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher, who mixes in a curveball as well. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and his slider is plus, while the curveball is solidly above-average that will flash plus as well.
In short, Gray is a solid arm who could be a #2 starter for the Mariners in 2020. Obviously, like all of these candidates, the cost is going to be key. For Seattle, they’ll be acquiring Gray for the 2021 season but will still need to pay for the extra 2-3 months in 2020. There is no guarantee Gray will produce for Seattle and even less of a chance he re-signs after 2021, so finding the right cost will be key.
Prospects like Julio Rodriguez, Logan Gilbert, and Kelenic are unlikely to be available for any player on the trade market this summer. And with Evan White signing his long-term deal, he is off the board as well. It is unlikely that Seattle would deal Noelvi Marte for a short-term asset, as well as George Kirby, who could make his MLB debut early in 2021.
This likely leaves some combination of Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and Cal Raleigh as the likely centerpiece. That may not be enough to get a deal done. But there is a possibility of “buying value” from the Rockies. If Dipoto took one of the bad contracts, perhaps Wade Davis or Ian Desmond, it could dramatically decrease the cost to acquire Gray.
Perhaps something in the neighborhood of Dunn and Juan Then for Gray and Desmond could get the job done.