Piecing together a trade proposal between the Reds and Rangers for Sonny Gray

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws a pitch. / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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It sure sounds like the Cincinnati Reds are going to deal one of their starting pitchers this offseason, doesn't it? The trio of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Tyler Mahle have all been rumored to be available this winter. And with the current market for starting pitching, the Reds could certainly land a nice return for one or more of their right-handed starters.

Kevin Gausman left the Bay Area and signed a six-year/$110M contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Robbie Ray waved au revoir to Hollywood North and is headed to the Emerald City on a five-year/$115M deal. And Max Scherzer cashed in with a three-year/$130M offer to move to the Big Apple.

Reds RHP Sonny Gray is said to be available in trade talks.

The crazy amount of money spent on starting pitching prior to the MLB lockout shows just how much teams value good pitching. The Reds are sitting in the cat bird's seat with three hurlers who are, at worst, the No. 3 starter on a good pitching staff.

Castillo and Mahle both entered the offseason with two years of team control remaining. Castillo, who had a rough start to 2021, rebounded nicely after June 1st and posted a 2.73 ERA over his final 22 starts. Mahle is an analytics darling who set career marks in games and innings pitched, wins, FIP, and fWAR.

Castillo's price tag for the 2022 season is estimated by MLB Trade Rumors to come in around $7.6M, while Mahle should be a bit cheaper at a projected $5.6M next season. Sonny Gray, however, is in the final year of his deal and will take home a base salary of $10.2M in 2022. The team holds a $12M option for the 2023 season as well.

Gray just turned 32 years old and is coming off an injury-plagued campaign in 2021. Gray appeared in 26 games, and while the strikeouts were there, some of the right-hander's numbers are a bit concerning. Gray saw his HR/9 spike from 0.64 to 1.26 and his ERA jumped from 3.70 to 4.19.

Gray can still be an effective piece of the Cincinnati Reds rotation next season, but with the likely ascension of young hurlers like Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Reiver Sanmartin, his standing with the team, especially considering his salary, is in question.

The Texas Rangers are said to be a match for the trio of Reds starters prior to the MLB lockout. Jon Morosi of MLB Network had reported early last month that despite investing heavily in both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, the Rangers were one of the team who had inquired about the Redlegs' starters.

Our friends over at Nolan Writin', a FanSided website dedicated to anything and everything related to the Texas Rangers, put together a proposal for Sonny Gray that included three mid-level prospects. Let's examine their proposal and see if we can't find some common ground.

A view of the cap and glove of Texas Rangers.
A view of the cap and glove of Texas Rangers. / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This trade proposal for Reds RHP Sonny Gray feels a little light.

Our fellow FanSiders over at Nolan Writin' pieced together a trade proposal between the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers centered around Sonny Gray. In their proposal, the Rangers would receive Gray and in return, the Reds would receive three mid-tier prospects; Trevor Hauver, Avery Weems, and Cody Bradford.

Hauver is a second baseman by trade, but the Rangers have also tinkered with using the 23-year-old in the outfield. Hauver was a third-round pick of the New York Yankees back in 2020 and was part of the trade that sent Joey Gallo to the Bronx. Hauver projects as a utility player at the major league level.

Weems was a sixth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox back in 2019 and landed in Arlington after the Rangers dealt Lance Lynn to the Windy City. Weems, who's calling card is his plus-curveball, projects as a left-handed reliever despite the fact he has a four-pitch repertoire.

Bradford, a fellow sixth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, is another southpaw in the Texas farm system. The 23-year-old was the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year during his sophomore season at Baylor. Bradford underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2019, and missed the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bradford could find a spot in the back of the rotation.

There are some solid pieces in this proposal, but I'm not sure there's enough there to make the Cincinnati Reds pull the trigger on a deal. What might it take for Nick Krall to actually ship Sonny Gray to the Lone Star State?

A general view of the stadium before an intersquad scrimmage.
A general view of the stadium before an intersquad scrimmage. / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

What would it take for the Rangers to land Reds RHP Sonny Gray?

Our friends over at Nolan Writin' had the right idea; a prospect-heavy return is probably what the Cincinnati Reds are seeking in return for any of their top starters. But I think it'll take at least one Top 10 prospect in the Texas Rangers farm system in order to get the ball rolling.

While Josh Smith and Luisangel Acuña caught my eye, Maximo Acosta should be the Top 10 Rangers prospect that the Reds should target. An international signing out of Venezuela in 2019, Acosta already shows an advanced feel at the dish. The 19-year-old could likely play any position on the infield dirt or even move to center field if needed.

But Acosta alone won't be enough to move the needle. Reds GM Nick Krall would need to acquire a few more pieces in order to feel good about sending Sonny Gray to the Rangers. Staying with the prospect theme, perhaps the Reds could pry Ricky Vanasco away from the Lone Stars.

Vanasco underwent Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2020 and missed all of last season. But the right-hander, if healthy, can touch 99-MPH on the radar gun. Vanasco probably projects as a reliever at this point, but he could still be in the mix to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.

For good measure, the Reds should request one more piece in order to ship Gray out of the Queen City. With center field a veritable black hole for the Reds currently, Cincinnati should add Steele Walker to their wishlist. The former second-round pick is major league ready hitting .241/.308/.400 while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

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What do think, Reds Country? Would this be enough to ship Sonny Gray off to the Texas Rangers? Should Cincinnati expect more? Will the Reds even be interested in even dealing Gray after the MLB lockout? Only time will tell?