MLB Rumor Buy or Sell: Astros reportedly eyeing Sonny Gray at the trade deadline


Welcome to CBSSports.com's Rumor Buy or Sell. With the July 31 trade deadline slowly approaching, we'll break down any various trade (free agency) rumors that come your way during the summer months.

The Rumor

From Nick Cafardo's latest in the Boston Globe:

The A's are following the Astros' system closely. There's mutual interest in getting something done for Gray as injuries have beset the Astros' pitching staff and they need reinforcements both in the rotation and the bullpen if they are to continue their great start.

Is there an intradivisional trade involving Sonny Gray brewing? Let's dig in.

The Background

To some extent, Gray has recovered from his disastrous 2016. Through his first nine starts, he's managed a 93 ERA+ and 3.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It's worth noting advanced metrics suggest he's pitching better than those marks indicate. His FIP, for instance, would qualify as the second-best of his career.

Oakland's reasoning for trading Gray would certainly include the risk that comes with pitchers, but there's more to it that -- like the financial aspect. Gray will be a free agent after the 2019 season, and is set to earn raises on his $3.58 million salary. There's also the matter of the A's being a last-place club with young pitching on the way (namely A.J. Puk and Grant Holmes). Add in how the A's will presumably get Kendall Graveman, Andrew Triggs, and Chris Bassitt back from the disabled list sooner than later, and the A's have the big-league depth to make a deal, too.

Houston's interest in Gray is sensible. While the Astros are head, shoulders and obliques ahead the rest of the American League, they're currently dealing with injuries to Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, and Charlie Morton. Adding Gray would provide insurance against one or two of those injuries lingering deep into the year. The Astros have been seeking a controllable, frontline starter since last offseason. If Houston believes Gray's best days are ahead of him -- or that he can return to his old form -- then he would qualify as a fit.

The Verdict

Buy. The caveat is that we aren't certain the Astros will land Gray, just because they're interested in him. Both sides have incentive to make a deal -- perhaps well ahead of the July 31 deadline. Yes, in an ideal world the A's would prefer to ship Gray out of the division, but the best deal is the best deal. Houston no longer boasts an elite farm system, yet in theory it can offer up a package built around Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, or David Paulino. Would that be enough? We'll see.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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