The rumor mill is slowly to starting to churn for the Astros.
If you fervently, or even casually, follow Buster Olney and ESPN, then you likely noticed his latest article about Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray. This post basically summarizes into how Gray has improved his stock as of late, and how the contending teams could use an arm like his. Lo and behold, the Astros were mentioned as a possibility.
I know, that’s a shock, right?
In case you didn’t pick up on my attempt at sarcasm, then you should know it is painfully obvious that the Astros are interested in acquiring another starting pitcher. After all, Collin McHugh hasn’t thrown a pitch in many moons and Mike Fiers leads baseball in most home runs allowed, 17, by a starting pitcher this season. I would be scouring the market for improvements, too.
Interestingly enough, the Athletics have a pitcher like Gray who is quite good when healthy that is under team control for multiple seasons following this one. You could also say the same thing about Chris Archer and Jose Quintana. Anyway, the Astros should definitely look into Gray for two reasons: One, he has been quite good this season (3.34 ERA/3.71 FIP), and two, he is under team control through 2019.
Of course, one would have to take Gray’s five starts this season with a grain of salt as it is a relatively small sample.
Gray’s 2016 season overall was a rather lackluster one (5.69 ERA/4.67 FIP). But his past issues are likely related to his two DL stints from last season. Don’t forget that Gray did post highly respectable numbers in 2014 and 2015. It’s likely that he is over these injuries and he has returned to his past form. His results this season have done little to suggest otherwise.
The question isn’t whether the Astros are interested in Gray, which they should. Rather it is about how much Houston is willing to sacrifice in a trade. And we all know young, controllable pitchers are going to fetch a hefty premium of young talent. There is no doubt in my mind that any discussion would likely start with Francis Martes and perhaps Kyle Tucker. Derek Fisher, David Paulino or J.D. Davis could also be in any trade talks if Martes or Tucker are off the table.
Between the likeky high asking price and the unknown surrounding McHugh right now, I doubt the Astros make a notable pitching acquisition before July. And it’s unlikely the A’s front office would feel inclined to pull the trigger this early. But don’t be surprise if Gray is mentioned more in the same breath as the Astros in the coming months.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**