Rays’ return on Blake Snell may tempt Reds to deal Sonny Gray

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 01: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 01: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Seeing the return the Rays received for Blake Snell may motivate the Reds to deal Sonny Gray.

The Tampa Bays Rays received quite the haul for Blake Snell. The American League Champions shipped the left-hander to the San Diego Padres in exchange for four top prospects. The return for the former Cy Young winner could motivate Cincinnati Reds GM Nick Krall to intensify his efforts to trade Sonny Gray this offseason.

San Diego reportedly is sending pitchers Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox, along with catchers Francisco Mejía and Blake Hunt to Tampa Bay. Patino, Wilcox, and Hunt are all rated in the Top 15 of the Padres farm system according to MLB Pipeline, with Patino rated as the No. 23 overall prospect in all of baseball. Mejía was once the top prospect in the Cleveland Indians’ organization.

This likely has Nick Krall salivating just thinking about what the Cincinnati Reds may be able to receive if they find a trade partner for Sonny Gray. Cincinnati has been rumored to be shopping Gray this offseason in an effort to reduce salary for the 2021 season. Gray has two years and $20M-plus remaining on his deal.

If Gray is dealt, it’s unlikely the Reds would be able to get as much as the Rays received in return from the Padres. However, their ERA’s are eerily similar with Snell (3.24) holding a slight edge over Gray (3.54). Both are under contract through 2023 and are relatively inexpensive considering their production.

The trade between San Diego and Tampa Bay certainly sets the bar very high for opposing teams wishing to secure Gray’s services. The Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves may all have Sonny Gray in their sights.

Of the four teams mentioned, the Braves and Twins have the most highly-rated farm systems, both of which are ripe with top-level prospects. Could Cincinnati pry Drew Waters away from Atlanta, or Alex Kiriloff away from Minnesota? Both are Top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline.

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Teams like the Twins and Braves, both of whom are in “win-now” mode, may be desperate enough to surrender several talented prospects in order to land Sonny Gray. The Rays and Padres have established a baseline. Will the Reds be more aggressive in their pursuit of a suitor for Gray or was San Diego the best chance Cincinnati had to unload the two-time All-Star?