The Pittsburgh Pirates Should Trade For Starting Pitcher Jon Gray

As the Pittsburgh Pirates look for starting pitching help this offseason, they should look to a hard throwing righty that is believed to be available on the trade market

There is no denying the Pittsburgh Pirates need to add starting pitching help this offseason. This will undoubtedly be something that new general manager Ben Cherington will look to address after he is officially introduced as GM on Monday afternoon.

In 2020 the team will look to build their starting rotation around Joe Musgrove and potential top of the rotation starter Mitch Keller. Odds are, Chris Archer will still be in the rotation as well. After these three, however, things are pretty wide open. As a result, Cherington should be scouring both the free agent and the trade market for starting pitching help between now and Spring Training.

As the Pirates prepare to look for starting pitching help one name that should be on their radar is Jon Gray. According to reports, the Colorado Rockies are open to trading the former 1st round draft pick. Due to this, Cherington should kick the tires.

Gray is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.84 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 23.6% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate, and a 2.9 fWAR in 26 games (25 starts). In 641 1/3 career innings across 115 games (114 starts) Gray owns a 4.46 ERA, but his FIP is 3.77. In his four full MLB seasons Gray has been worth an average of 3.1 fWAR per season.

The biggest problem in Gray’s career has been home runs and his batting average on balls in play. Gray’s career HR/9 of 1.09 is higher than you would like to see. However, a lot of this is due to pitching his home games at Coors Field. His .323 career BAbip also has a lot to do with Coors Field.

Gray could also find improved results by switching up his pitch selection. While he possesses a power fastball, opposing batters slugged .541 off of it in 2019. Despite this, he still threw the pitch 51.3% of the time.

Meanwhile, Gray’s slider limited opponents to a .297 slugging percentage, while generating a 29.2% swing-and-miss rate. His curveball generated a 19.3% swing-and-miss rate while limiting opponents to a .271 slugging percentage. Despite the success of these pitches, he threw them just 33.5% and 11.1% of the time, respectively.

By leaning on his slider and curveball a bit more Gray could find great success with a new club in 2020 and 2021. That new club should be the Pirates.

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If Gray were traded, the team he is moved two would get two years of team control. This would give the Pirates options on what to do. They could look to win in 2020 with Gray being a cornerstone of the rotation. However, if things do not go according to plan they could then look to flip Gray for prospects either at the trade deadline or next offseason.

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