Reds: Sonny Gray should not be traded this offseason

According to MLB.com, Josh Hader, Byron Buxton, and Ketel Marte, are among the prime offseason trade candidates this offseason. Sonny Gray made the list as well, but the Cincinnati Reds should think twice before dealing the starter this winter.

Gray’s was mentioned as a possible trade candidate last winter as well. When you’re a starting pitcher on a relatively low-cost contract, you’re going to attract attention on the trade market. Gray is under contract through next season and has a $12M option for the 2023 season.

It’s been an up and down season for Sonny Gray and the right-hander’s injury-riddled season sure hasn’t helped, but when he’s on his game, the Vanderbilt alum is one of the best starting pitchers in the Cincinnati rotation.

The Reds should avoid trading Sonny Gray this offseason.

The trade talk surrounding the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation will be an interesting discussion to follow this offseason. With the entire rotation under team control through next season and the team’s top two pitching prospects ready to join the big leagues in 2022, Cincinnati will have some choices to make this winter.

While trading Sonny Gray would not be the worst decision, the Reds have other options. The front office could decide to cash in on what would be their biggest trade chip and deal Luis Castillo this winter before he becomes a free agent in 2024.

Has Tyler Mahle earned an extension, or is his inconsistency on the mound reason enough for Cincy to trade the right-hander before he’s in the final year of team control? Should the Reds pick up Wade Miley’s team-option? If so, do they trade him? Are Vladimir Gutierrez or Tony Santillan really long-term answers for the starting rotation?

All these questions should make the Cincinnati Reds think twice before looking to trade Sonny Gray. He’s only under contract for one more season, and despite missing several games due to injury, Gray’s numbers in 2021 are very similar to what he posted during the 2019 season.

Despite injuries, Sonny Gray’s had a solid season for the Reds.

Gray’s strikeout-rate is tad better this season than what we saw during his All-Star campaign in 2019, and his walk-rate is slightly lower as well. Batters are hitting .226 off the right-hander this season while he limited opponents to a .193 bating average in 2019. Gray’s FIP is slightly elevated this season (3.77) compared to 2019 (3.42) as well.

There’s little doubt that both Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene will be part of the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation next season. You’d have to assume that given how he’s pitched this season, Vladimir Gutierrez will be in the mix as well.

That leaves two spots remaining for the quintet of Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, Luis Castillo, Tony Santillan, and Tyler Mahle. If the Reds are looking to go with the youth-movement, perhaps this is the end of the road for Gray and Miley. If Cincinnati wants to add some veterans to their young corps, perhaps the front office ships off Castillo in a blockbuster trade this winter.

There are any number of ways the Cincinnati front office could go this season, but for my money, I’d keep Sonny Gray in the Queen City. Both Castillo and Mahle will get significant raises this offseason through arbitration, and one wonders what it will take to keep Castillo in a Reds jersey for the long haul.