Blue Jays in on the Sonny Gray bidding?

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 30: Sonny Gray
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 30: Sonny Gray /

With the trade deadline fast approaching, many expect the Blue Jays to be sellers this year. However, the rumour mill would say otherwise.

The Blue Jays started the second half on a positive note, beating the Detroit Tigers in the first game after the break. It was a much needed lift for the fan base, who watched their team limp into the All-Star break over the last two weeks.

Many of us (myself included) felt that the way things have gone recently, it would be just a matter of time before the Blue Jays started shopping some of their veterans. However, the rumour mill would suggest otherwise, as they are being linked to several potentially available players, including the Oakland A’s, Sonny Gray.

Gray is an interesting candidate, as he won’t be a free agent until after 2020, when he’s gone through two more rounds of arbitration. He’s also just 27 years old, which is obviously desirable when seeking starting pitching. Making just 3.575 million this year, he’s also a bargain in any rotation.

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He’s also interesting because it’s hard to say what you’ll get from the talented right-hander. He was an All-Star in 2015, going 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA in his age 25 season. When it appeared he was ready to take the “ace” status in Oakland, he hit a speed bump and had a terribly rough 2016, finishing 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in just 22 starts.

This year he’s found a bit of a middle ground, as he’s 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA through 14 starts, and has looked a lot more like the pitcher that had so many fans excited in Oakland. With the form coming around, he’s also garnering a lot of trade interest again, as the A’s look to be out of contention again this season.

There were reports that several teams sent scouts to watch his start on Friday night including the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and yes, the Toronto Blue Jays. If they Blue Jays are serious about pursuing him, they’ll have heavy competition from those other teams, especially their AL East rivals.

Pursuing Gray makes some sense for the Blue Jays, as they would be able to control him for another two years, and his timeline fits pretty well with the other young star pitchers in Toronto. Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman won’t be free agents until 2021, so the three of them would make a pretty dynamic trio at the top of the rotation.

Of course, it’s the season of rumours in baseball, and as my colleague Clayton Richer put it the other day, “if you’re hearing about it, chances are it’s not going to happen”. This one feels like a long shot, but on the plus side, Blue Jays fans should take solace in knowing that the front office hasn’t given up on the 2017, at least not yet.

Next: Blue Jays, Osuna, and the young closer jinx