Cincinnati Reds: Sonny Gray won’t come as cheap as Raisel Iglesias

Sep 6, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws in the outfield before playing. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws in the outfield before playing. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sonny Gray could offer the Reds a lot in return.

It’s debatable as to whether or not the Cincinnati Reds will actually trade Sonny Gray this offseason, though the rumors don’t seem to be going away. However, you can be sure that if Cincinnati decides to deal the right-hander, they’ll certainly receive more in return than what they got from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Raisel Iglesias.

Iglesias, the Reds closer for the past four-plus seasons, was dealt to LaLa Land last week in exchange for right-handed reliever Noé Ramirez and infield prospect Leonardo Rivas, formerly a Top 30 prospect within the Angels organization according to MLB Pipeline.

Ramirez, who turns 31-years old later this year, has been a big league reliever since 2015. The right-hander actually ended the 2020 season with a higher WAR (0.7) than the player he was traded for. In 21 innings of work, Ramirez posted a 1-0 record with a 3.00 ERA 14 strikeouts and a 1.143 WHIP.

Rivas is a light-hitting shortstop prospect with a big league arm. The 23-year-old from Venezuela has yet to play above Advanced-A, putting up a .708 OPS in 2019 with the Inland Empire 66ers. At best, Cincinnati may be able to eek out a bench role for Rivas in the coming years.

All in all, it’s a very modest return for a player that occupies a premier position in your bullpen. While 2019 was a year that Raisel Iglesias would’ve liked to forget, he looked to be back on track in 2020.

Now, the Reds have a vacancy in their bullpen, one that the newly acquired Ramirez will be unlikely to fill. Instead fans should look toward Lucas Sims or Amir Garrett to be the team’s closer in 2021.

With rumors Sonny Gray being shipped out of Cincinnati before the start of next season, it’s my belief that if that happens, the Reds front office will be looking for a much larger return. What they may be looking for exactly, other than cutting costs, I’m not sure.

Sonny Gray gives the Cincinnati Reds a chance to win every time he toes the rubber. Gray has arguably been Cincinnati’s most consistent pitcher over the past two seasons combined. While Trevor Bauer took home the NL Cy Young Award in 2020, Gray has pitched a combined 231.1 innings since 2019 with 277 strikeouts, a 3.07 ERA, and a 1.115 WHIP.

Trevor Bauer has more innings pitched (286) and therefore has more strikeouts (353), but the hottest free agent on the market right now has a higher ERA (3.78) and WHIP (1.133) than Sonny Gray. Bauer’s 11.1 K/9 is just slightly higher than Gray’s 10.9 K/9 over the last two seasons.

Given Gray’s affordable contract (two-years/$20.2M), it’s not surprising that several teams are interested in his services. That contract is exactly the reason why the two-time All-Star is drawing so much interest. Considering that Bauer is likely to take home a contract paying him more than $30M per season, having the ability to land Gray for about $10M per year is a virtual steal.

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That’s why Sonny Gray is being talked about so much this offseason. With the pitching market aside from Bauer being void of star-power, any team in need of a starter is likely picking up the phone to give Nick Krall a call. I still think it’s debatable as to whether or not a trade is made, but if it is, the Cincinnati Reds should get quite the haul.