The Atlanta Braves could consider acquiring a veteran starting pitcher to add to their already strong rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an option?
The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 2021. I’ll never get tired of saying that.
However, they do want to repeat in 2022, and one area they are rumored to want to improve is starting pitcher depth. While there are a few names on the free agent market that make sense, the trade market might be where the Braves look instead.
Enter the Cincinnati Reds as a trade partner. There are rumors that the Reds might consider tearing it down and trading off some of their valuable assets.
Gray will be 32 entering the 2022 season and carries an option for 2023. If the Reds are considering a rebuild/retool period, then Gray could be available.
The Reds also feature a few pitching prospects that could be making their debut soon, potentially even in 2022.
50 Shades of Sonny Gray
Gray for his career: 3.61 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, & 3.85 SIERA,
In 2021, his numbers looked like: 4.19 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, & 4.19 SIERA.
A little bit of a down year, and maybe a bit unlucky in 2021, however, still a solid season with a 2.4 fWAR. He also had his ground ball rate drop from 52.3% in his career, to 47.2% in 2021.
In turn, his fly ball rate spiked from his career norm of 28.4% up to 32.1% in 2021 (up from 23.0% in 2020). Fly balls in the Great American Ball Park usually hurt pitchers.
If he can regain his form, and normalize his ground ball and fly ball rates, he could see his numbers slide back down. Also, a ground ball pitcher would enjoy playing with the Braves stellar defensive infield behind him.
Gray would slide into the middle of a strong Braves rotation and provide length that the Braves did not always have in 2021. With four reliable arms going into the 2022 season, the Braves would set up well to make another run.
The Braves could build a package around Cristian Pache or Drew Waters, one of which they probably need to move this winter. Adding Sonny Gray would also allow the Braves to use some of their young pitching depth to make another trade for an impact bat if a potential trade target were to emerge.
It will be an exciting off-season for Braves fans. One that could include lots of news and potential moves to put the team in a position to defend their title in 2022. Maybe Sonny Gray is one of those moves.