Colorado Rockies: The Other Disgruntled Trade Candidate

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 29: Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field on September 29, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 29: Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field on September 29, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

All the focus in Colorado has been on superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado and his grievance with the team.  There’s another player on the Colorado Rockies who may want out too.

The Colorado Rockies explored a trade for their superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado but didn’t find a suitable offer. Now, Arenado is not happy about it and is making it known publicly. While he doesn’t have the same stature in the organization as Arenado, there is another player in Colorado who could be disgruntled based on how he has been handled. Jon Gray has been a solid pitcher for the Rockies but he might be frustrated in his own right.

Rewind to 2018, Jon Gray was Colorado’s opening day starter and wasn’t having success by traditional metrics. He had struck out 29% of hitters faced, walked 7%, and had a sterling 3.07 FIP. Despite those very solid numbers, Gray had the terrible fortune of an 5.77 ERA that was one of the worst in all of baseball.

Instead of looking beyond that ballooned ERA and wait for positive regression, the Rockies chose to send Gray to AAA-Albuquerque to “fix” some things. It only took gray 10.2 innings in New Mexico to

fix his problems

return to the big leagues where he finished with 2.5 fWAR despite his 5.12 ERA. Getting sent down despite being the ace of the Rockies staff probably left a bad taste for Gray. That bad taste could be starting to resurface as Gray sees how things are going with Arenado.

Related Story. Rockies make appearance in free agency. light

I don’t have access to Jon Gray’s thoughts but what I do have access to is information that says he would upgrade for many rotations. In 2019, Gray was having another successful year before a fractured foot ended his season. Gray posted a career best 50% ground ball rate which is critical to having success in Coors field. Add in the fact that he struck out 24% of batter and that means 3/4 of his ABs ended in a GB or a K.  For those who are visual learners, enjoy three different sliders from Gray.

Gray’s fastball and slider are both lower spin offerings but that may be a matter of pitch design to combat things at Coors field. The pitches do spin mirror each other which adds another layer of effectiveness. Gray was in the bottom 4% for hard hit rate but he also pitches half his games in a stadium where mistakes get punished. Overall though, Gray is a well above average pitcher right now and an acquiring team might see more upside.

Gray, who will play this season at 28, has two years of team control left before reaching free agency. He will make $5.6M this season and with a strong 2020 season, could be looking at a raise to $8M -$10M in his final year of arbitration. Steamer is optimistic in Gray 2020, projecting him for 3.5 wins in Colorado’s hellacious high altitude environment.

Gray actually has real trade value if he wanted out of Colorado. If you think he’ll be worth 7.0 WAR the next two years that comes to $56M in value on the field and $40M of surplus value. That would leave the Rockies looking for something in the range of a 55 FV prospect in exchange for Gray.

The Angels missed out on Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler this offseason. No disrespect to Dylan Bundy or Julio Teheran, but Gray is better than both those guys and would be a huge upgrade for a team and GM having make or break year. A trade would come down to the Rockies interest in a package of 50 FV CF prospect Brandon Marsh and other complementary pieces.

The Astros, despite the scandals, are going to be a contender and have a Cole sized hole in their rotation. They could see Gray as they did Gerrit Cole, an under performing pitcher who is a few tweaks from greatness. The Astros could offer a combination MLB ready pieces like RHP Jose Urquidy or 3B Abraham Toro (could be Arenado’s replacement) or close to ready guys like RHPs Cristian Javier or Brandon Bielak.

The Twins have a need for high quality innings beyond Jose Berrios so they could have real interest too. They have a slew of top 100 prospects they build a deal around like 50 FV outfielders Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach and complement with boom or bust types sitting in A-ball somewhere

Aside from the trio above, the Rangers have a new ballpark and could see Gray as another compliment to a solid but old rotation. The Cubs have rotation questions but may not have the prospects to entice the Rockies to a deal. The Padres have all the prospects in the world but the Rockies may be hesitant to deal within the division.  Lastly, the Brewers have the need but they tend to hunt in the bargain bin.

Next. Arenado situation souring. dark

The Rockies have been a confusing organization to watch over the past few years. They have had success making the playoffs but that has been in spite of signing every average middle reliever and the Ian Desmond contract. Nolan Arenado is frustrated and the relationship there may be beyond repair. Jon Gray may also have lingering bad blood from being sent down in 2018.

If the Colorado Rockies are noncompetitive or opt for a rebuild, expect Jon Gray to be on the move as well.