The Seattle Mariners had very inconsistent starting pitching performances in 2021. Marco Gonzales struggled badly out of the gate and got hurt, but returned to form in the second half. James Paxton didn’t finish one start before getting hurt. Logan Gilbert came up in May, struggled a bit at first, but finished with several great starts. Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn did not perform at all and got hurt.
Yusei Kikuchi had a great first half and made the All-Star team, but had a miserable second half. Tyler Anderson provided much needed innings down the stretch and was solid as the #5 starter, but faltered late in the season. The only consistent starting pitcher all year was Chris Flexen.
The Mariners need to go out and add another starting pitcher to bolster the rotation, as they had too many bullpen games in the first half of the season, which can’t happen next year.
Why Seattle Should Trade for Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray is a solid starting pitcher who would slot in at the top of the Mariners rotation. He is going into his age 32 season, has one year left on his contract at just under $11 million, and then a club option for $12 million; this would give the Mariners two years at under $23 million for Gray, who is coming off of a 2.4 WAR year according to Fangraphs.
In this deal, the Mariners get Sonny Gray to be in their rotation for the next few years as a top or middle of the rotation arm. Gray has a good 5 pitch mix he uses to get batters out with, and gets almost 50% of his outs via groundballs, which would be good in Seattle with a good defense behind him.
The Cincinnati Reds get an excellent back end of the bullpen arm in Drew Steckenrider, who they can use in high-leverage situations. They buy low on Taylor Trammell, who was originally with the Reds, and could benefit from being back in Cincinnati. They also get Levi Stoudt, Seattle’s #9 prospect, who made it to AA Arkansas last year and flashed promise.
The Mariners need to upgrade their rotation, and Sonny Gray is a solid player with postseason experience who could help them make a push. Seattle has shown that they can help veteran pitchers (such as Paul Sewald) find brilliance later in their career, and they could be able to do the same with Gray.