Sonny Gray is heading east, as the Oakland Athletics announced earlier this afternoon that their staff ace has been dealt to the New York Yankees.
RHP Sonny Gray traded to NYY with $1.5M in int’l bonus slot $ for OF Dustin Fowler, IF Jorge Mateo, RHP James Kaprielian.
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) July 31, 2017
In return, the A’s received a risky package that is loaded with upside.
Dustin Fowler, 22, is rated as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees system. Some scouts even say that they like him better than fellow Yankees prospect Clint Frazier. Unfortunately sidelined due to a season-ending knee injury, Fowler had been performing very well with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the tune of a .293/.329/.542 batting line, 13 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases in 297 at-bats. He possesses the tools to become a 20-20 player; it’s just a matter of him putting it together. Most importantly though for Oakland, he is a quality defensive outfielder.
Jorge Mateo, 22, has spent time at shortstop, second base, and in the outfield. Arguably Mateo’s best tool is his speed, swiping an unbelievable 82 bases during the 2015 season. Scouts figure he’ll slide in at either second base or in center field.
That now brings us to James Kaprielian, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Prior to his injury, the 23-year-old right-hander displayed huge potential. Possessing a four-pitch repertoire, all of which grade out as plus pitches, Kaprielian’s fastball may be his best, topping out at 99 MPH in his pro career. He displays good command and control and delivers his pitches well. While he shouldn’t need much time in the minors, the problem with him will be staying healthy. Should he remain healthy after recovery from surgery, Kap’s ceiling sits at a top-end starter with possible ace stuff.
On the other hand, this is an absolute boon for the Yankees, after acquiring Jaime Garcia earlier in the morning. In the heart of the playoff race, the Yankees needed to do something after losing Michael Pineda to Tommy John surgery earlier this month. Acquiring Gray for them is more than just a “win-now” move, as Gray has two more years of team control. The organization’s main concern has to be regarding which Gray they are receiving. Will it be the 2015 Gray who finished third in Cy Young voting, or the 2016 Gray who finished with an ERA just south of 6.00. Given how he’s pitched this season, I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle, likely closer to 2015. With Masahiro Tanaka struggling this year, it’s not hard to envision Gray becoming the ace of the staff in rather quick fashion.
The most interesting part of this deal, though, lies in the $1.5 million of international bonus slot money that the Yankees acquired. With Shohei Otani set to make his way stateside this winter, one has to wonder if this is a sign of things to come?
Given the close race for the American League East, this was a must for the Yankees. They’ve proven that their offense is capable of carrying the team. However, not many teams get far without quality pitching. Today, the Yankees took steps towards ensuring that they don’t become one of those teams to fall short.