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Keeping Sonny For A Gray Day

The Yankees rotation for 2019 seems all but set in stone: Severino, Paxton, Tanaka, Sabathia, and J.A. Happ to round things out. But despite the ongoing discussions (and perhaps some wishful thinking on the part of Yankees fans) Sonny Gray has yet to be traded. Many in the industry expected him to be moved during the Winter Meetings, but an asking price of top prospects in return has kept him in Pinstripes as the calendar officially turns to winter. The 29-year-old sports a career 3.66 ERA, but his 4.51 ERA since the 2017 trade to the Bronx certainly has not supported that statistic. Considering the package that the Yankees sent back to Oakland, (Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler) I would keep Sonny Gray in the Bronx this upcoming season. Gray is just four years removed from a 14-win season and 2.73 ERA. In other words, given his age, and track record, I believe there is a role for him with the Yankees. Earlier this month, projected fifth starter C.C. Sabathia underwent heart surgery to insert a stent that will relieve a blockage in one of his arteries. Although he is expected to be ready for Spring Training, it would be wise to have insurance for the 38-year-old with apparent heart issues. Alternatives to Gray as the backup guy include Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga, both of whom are coming off injuries. Also on the list are Domingo German and Luis Cessa, who both pitched to an ERA north of five in their limited roles last season. Meanwhile, Chance Adams struggled mightily between Triple-A and New York in 2018. With Justus Sheffield now in Seattle, Sonny Gray may very well be the best in-house option. The team has already brought in two starters this offseason, so here are my two hypothetical roles for Gray with the Yankees this season. They could move the righty to the bullpen full time, making spot starts here and there as the necessity presents itself. Option two: With the emergence of the “opener” strategy in Tampa, the Yankees should re-think their approach to starting pitching and platoon Gray and Sabathia at the back end of the rotation. Given his age and recent health problems, it probably would not hurt for Sabathia to be given extra rest in between starts, with C.C. starting at home and Sonny Gray making the road starts. Only time will tell where Sonny Gray will pitch in 2019, but if I was Brian Cashman, it would be with the Yankees.


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