In the last several years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have earned a reputation of taking struggling pitchers and resurrecting their careers. The offseason has not yet officially started, but an intriguing opportunity for another reclamation project has presented itself.
In a recent press conference, Yankees GM Brian Cashman bluntly expressed interest in trading away pitcher Sonny Gray.
Hear Cashman’s thoughts from the press conference.
If you couldn’t tell by Cashman’s immediate sigh in the clip above, Gray is coming off a disappointing season in pinstripes, sporting a 4.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.50. In fact, the Yankees fielded twelve pitchers on their 25-man ALDS roster and Gray was not one of them.
The former first-round pick has shown flashes of brilliance earlier in his career, specifically in his time with Oakland. In the 2015 season, Gray was an all-star for the A’s and finished third in the AL Cy Young voting with an ERA of 2.73 and a 1.08 WHIP across 31 starts.
The Pirates have been known as an island of misfit toys for pitchers looking to turn things around. The list includes Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, and Ivan Nova. All these pitchers saw drastic improvements that resulted in breakout seasons, an All-Star appearance (Burnett) and a Comeback Player of the Year award (Liriano).
The Pirates also have a history of being trade partners with the Yankees. In fact, both Burnett and Nova came to Pittsburgh via trades with the Bronx Bombers. Other players traded from New York to Pittsburgh include Francisco Cervelli and former-Pirate Chris Stewart.
Over the last few years and even a few months ago, the Pirates have been rumored to have an interest in Gray. The 28-year-old would benefit from getting out of ultra hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Pitching outside of Yankee Stadium, Gray’s 2018 ERA (3.17), WHIP (1.16), and SO/9 (9.9) are drastically better than his statistics at home (6.98, 1.90, 6.8 respectively).
Four pieces of the Pirates’ 2019 starting rotation are anchored by Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, and Joe Musgrove. Former reclamation project, Ivan Nova had an overall inconsistent 2018 and the Pirates should at least consider finding an upgrade for him this offseason.
If the Pirates would be able to find a trade partner for Nova, it would be worth it for Neal Huntington to take a chance on Sonny following in the footsteps of Liriano, Volquez, Burnett, Happ, and Nova. Gray is under control for the next two years and will certainly benefit from a change of scenery.