Red Sox frontline starting pitching target: Sonny Gray
After losing Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers in free agency, the Red Sox made a concerted effort to upgrade their pitching depth this offseason. In the week preceding the lockout, the Red Sox acquired veteran starters Michael Wacha, James Paxton, and Rich Hill. Though these moves undoubtedly give the team more options for their rotation, none of the three can match the value of Rodriguez.
The Red Sox still need to add a frontline starting pitcher, and they should look no further than Reds starter Sonny Gray. Gray’s stock has fallen a bit over the last few years, but his numbers are hurt by the fact he pitches in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. His FIP, which adjusts for ballpark effects, has been .34 lower than his ERA since 2020.
While Gray has allowed more runs than usual recently, he remains an extremely difficult pitcher to hit. His three highest K/9 seasons have all come in the last three years, and he is still 10th amongst active pitchers in lowest H/9 rate. His stuff backs up the numbers, as his devastating curveball and slider are both well above average in terms of vertical movement.
Gray is not inexpensive, as he will be owed $10 million this year with a $12 million option for next year. Yet the average annual value of Gray’s contact is much lower than what other top starting pitchers got on the open market this year, including Rodriguez. No matter what surface-level numbers say, Gray is still an elite pitcher on an affordable contract, and a player of his caliber is rarely available on the trade block.