With the July 31 MLB trade deadline creeping up, Sonny Gray is once again on the trade block. Gray is putting up another stellar season, but the A’s aren’t competitive and could use farm system help after destroying their farm system in 2014 for Jon Lester, Jeff Samadzija, Jason Hammel, and Johnny Gomes. Here’s where the Braves come in.
The Braves have the #1 farm system in the MLB (according to Bleacher Report). They have a lot of untouchable pitching prospects including LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Mike Soroka, and LHP Max Fried, but their farm system is so deep that the Braves could afford to give up some prospects for the former Vanderbilt pitcher (I know, another one.)
Gray is 3-4 with a 4.09 ERA this season, but he’s faced the toughest schedule out of any pitcher. Gray has pitched to a career 3.49 ERA. His career ERA wouldn’t be as high if it weren’t for a down season last year (5.69 ERA), for in 2014 and 2015, he had an ERA of 3.08 and 2.73.
The Braves shouldn’t be trading for a rental at this point in their rebuilding phase, but Gray is not a rental. First, he’s only 27 years old and is just now entering his prime. And, Gray is not scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent until 2020, so he’s got his best days ahead of him. And also, Gray is from Nashville and went to Vanderbilt, which is in Braves Country, so convincing him to re-sign long term might not be terribly hard, especially if the Braves are good then, which we all hope.
The Braves have the farm system to trade for Gray, and there are some players that the Braves could afford to ship away, including Lucas Sims or Patrick Weigel, who are both in Triple-A. Sims could be in the majors soon and is a solid prospect, but the Braves have many higher pitching prospects than Sims, who is already 23 years old. In Weigel’s case, he’s had a great year but might miss the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery. Those might be nice pieces, but the Braves will have to give up a bigger prospect than those two.
Ian Anderson (No.3 pick of 2016 draft), Luiz Gohara, or Joey Wentz might be potential pitchers the A’s could acquire from the Braves. These guys are all great prospects, but especially for Anderson, their timelines will be off of what the Braves are aiming for. Newly-drafted RHP Kyle Wright could make it easier to trade these guys because Wright will probably make it to the MLB before these guys. All of these prospects won’t be ready for another 2-4 years, and by that time, the Braves should have a solid core of Newcomb, Allard, Soroka, Teheran (if he’s still a Brave), and Wright, unless the Braves make some changes or something else happens.
In terms of bats the A’s could acquire, the Braves have hitting prospects like Austin Riley, Christian Pache, Dustin Peterson, and Alex Jackson. The Braves hitting prospects aren’t as intriguing, but the A’s might want one of them to complete the trade.
There are a lot of great players in the Braves farm system, and if the Braves acquire Gray, the Braves will probably have to trade 2-3 of them for the ace of the A’s. Obviously, there are untouchable players in the farm system, but the Braves’ farm system is so deep that they could afford to give away some talent without snatching the untouchable players. Gray is either an ace or a #2, and he’s not a free agent until 2020.
When it comes down to it, the Braves should make a move for Sonny Gray. But, if it costs one of their top 5 prospects, the Braves should be hesitant. But, Gray’s trade value has taken a hit due to his injury-riddled past. If Gray is there at the deadline, and the Braves can get him at a reasonable price, they should make the move to acquire Gray from the A’s.