Could the Reds and Twins pull off a blockbuster trade involving Sonny Gray?
If the rumors are true and the Cincinnati Reds really intend to trade Sonny Gray this offseason, they can’t screw it up. What I mean by that is, Cincinnati’s front office cannot just settle for a meager return. There’s one team out there who likely interested in Gray and could offer a lot in exchange for the right-hander’s services; the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins are positioned well to win the American League Central. However, the Chicago White Sox are nipping at their heels, and unless the Twins add an arm to their rotation, they may be looking up in the standings come next October.
Jake Odorizzi, who played very little for Minnesota in 2020 is currently on the open market and may be the top second-tier hurler available this offseason. Rich Hill is also no longer with the Twins, and while the trio of Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda are formidable, it might not be enough to take home the AL Central crown in 2021.
However, if the Twins added Sonny Gray to that rotation, Minnesota would certainly be the odds-on favorite to win the AL Central Division and may even take the top spot among every team in the American League. What would it take for the Twins to swing a deal with the Reds? A lot!
The Cincinnati Reds do not, I repeat, do not need to trade Sonny Gray. In fact, I would advocate against dealing the two-time All-Star. Gray is on a relatively inexpensive contract, owed just $20.2M over the next two seasons with a $12M team option for 2023. For a small market team like Cincinnati, that’s an extremely valuable contract to hold onto.
But, the rumors have persisted this winter, and by all accounts, the Reds front office seems poised to move Gray before the start of the 2021 season. If that’s the case, Cincinnati must receive two Top 100 prospects in return. Not only that, but given how the Reds roster is currently constructed, those prospects must be major-league ready or close to it. That’s where the Twins come in.
Two of Minnesota’s top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, fall into the aforementioned categories. Outfielder/ first base prospect Alex Kiriloff (No. 27) and right-handed pitcher Jordan Balazovic (No. 81) would be a phenomenal return in exchange for Sonny Gray.
Would it be an overpay? Yes, absolutely. But if you’re looking for starting pitching this offseason, you’re going to pay a big price. Trevor Bauer is the best arm on the open market and will likely command $30M-plus per season. In order to gain a player like Gray, who honestly rivals Bauer’s production over the past two seasons, for one-third the price, you’ll have to overpay.
The Cincinnati Reds need to stand firm and not deal Sonny Gray unless a deal like this comes along. Imagine adding Kiriloff, and eventual replacement for Joey Votto, and a top arm like Balazovic to the Cincinnati roster. While I don’t like the idea of losing Gray, a deal like that would be hard to pass up.