The clock is ticking on the Yankees to acquire a much-needed starting pitcher. And time has no plans of slowing down, as just nine days separate general manager Brian Cashman from the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
But are the Yankees solely focused on being buyers at the moment?
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, some teams around the league are under the impression that the Yankees are contemplating trading right-handed starter Sonny Gray back to a small-market club, with the belief that the 28-year-old has a better chance to thrive somewhere else than in New York City.
“There are a couple of teams sending scouts to watch Gray pitch as the second half opens,” Cafardo wrote in his latest Sunday Baseball Notes column. “Are the Yankees trying to move Gray? That’s the impression some teams are getting… The feeling seems to be he belongs in a smaller market… The Yankees could turn around and flip prospects for a front-line starter.”
Gray’s short tenure with the Yankees hasn’t lived up to its billing, and based on the team’s current postseason aspirations, his inconsistencies are justifiably magnified.
Since the Athletics shipped Gray to New York in exchange for three prospects at last season’s deadline, he’s gone 11-14 with a lackluster 4.69 ERA in 30 starts. Although he’s shown success in spurts — Gray owns a commendable 3.62 ERA in 10 road outings — his woes at Yankee Stadium have overshadowed that progress. In eight home starts this year, Gray’s ERA sits at a bloated 7.62, and opponents have hit .310 and reached base 40-percent of the time.
But to Gray’s credit — and to the Yankees’ delight — it appears he’s turning a corner. In his last two outings, Gray’s allowed just two runs, six hits, and four walks across 11.1 innings with 14 strikeouts. On Saturday against the Mets, Gray earned his first win in the Bronx since May 5, and the overall performance was encouraging.
“For me, there’s only one way to go and that’s up,” Gray told the New York Daily News after the game. “I guess it couldn’t get any worse. Something needed to change. For me, mindset-wise, I just needed to compete, needed to go out there and keep the game small and go up there and try to get guys out one pitch at a time and one batter at a time and take that mindset throughout the second half and hopefully start a lot of games that we win.”
The pressure on Cashman and the Yankees’ brass to find a suitable trade partner has undeniably mounted. But if Gray endures another setback in his next start on July 26 (home against the Royals), it wouldn’t be crazy to believe that the Yankees could view trading him as a method of addition by subtraction.