The Sonny Gray Rumor
Place your prospects on the table, and back away slowly


Q.  Would Dr. D mortgage the future for Sonny Gray?

A.  He thoroughly enjoyed Zoom's impassioned plea for the M's to steer far clear of this land mine.  A convincing case-against it is, too.

Unfortunately for those with a physical aversion to getting train-robbed by a horseback Billy Beane wearing a kerchief over his face, "a source with knowledge of the team's thinking" -- that would be either Dipoto himself or the medium John Edward, we suppose -- said "he is going for it these next two years," going completely in.

As a general rule Dr. D is pleased to take back the best player in any deal.  So were the Detroit Tigers, when they gave us four spare parts and lotto tickets for Doug Fister.  I give 4, you give 1, all day long baby.  Sonny Gray IS a difference-maker during 3 major league seasons counting this one.  That's like half of a six-year club controls era.  But that's not the over-arc'ing point here ...


Another way to look at the above.  If you Sonny Gray were a Mariner right now, would you deal him AWAY this week for a top-100 prospect, a good young #3-4 outfielder and ?  ... should the Mariners DO that with Nelson Cruz?  I'm sure they could.  Boomstick is an underpaid MLB star with maybe a couple years in him, you hope.  Actually Cruz has only 2018 left on his deal and Gray has 2018-19.


Referring not to any Denizen but to the cliche itself.  :- )  The phrase "your future" mis-frames the debate in a way that inhibits clear thinking.  Your #1 prospect is never your "future," no matter what org you are in.  Suppose that one kid blows out a knee or something.  Does the herald angel blow a trumpet and the curtain come down on space-time itself?  That's what they said about Y2K computers.  SHOW ME

But that's not the over-arc'ing point either ...


Certainly there is a point at which you don't want to pay $4.50 on the $1 dollar.  But as a general rule of thumb you will find that it is pure wisdom, "Take no thought for tomorrow; sufficient unto today is the evil thereof."  Meaning, your problems right now are already more than too much for you, even if you punch today's problems as hard in the face as you possibly can, without reserving 50% of your strength for imaginary worries down the line.

It's not an absolute.  But you will be surprised how well next year falls in line if you do your very best this year.  Worked out for the Royals and James Shields.


Zoom predicted Kyle Lewis and one of our 4 OF's as a starting point here.  Let's stipulate that.  If we do, then Mitch Haniger is tier 1, Ben Gamel is tier 2, Guillermo Heredia is tier 3 (because Leonys Martin is almost the same thing) and Jarrod Dyson is tier 5.  Did we forget that Dyson walks in two months?  Well, from Beane's angle Dyson is meaningless, isn't he.

Heredia or Dyson, not a dealbreaker.  Coughing up Haniger or Gamel, that's pretty close to creating one hole to patch another says the Mainframe.  Kyle Lewis, Guillermo Heredia and ? for Gray and ?, let's keep talking.  You're giving up a lot.  You're also getting a whale of a lot.

Like Forrest Gump advised Jenny that Viet Nam was "a whole other country" :- ) here is a whole other article, a national one, on Gray-to-Seattle.  


For what it's worth, Gray right now has the lowest FIP of his career, 3.38 with an xFIP of 3.41.  That xFIP would have him #7 in the American League if he qualified, one step below James Paxton at #6 and two slots ahead of Chris Archer at #9.  Not bad compared to our #5 starter, whoever he is.

I don't expect Gray to twirl 2,000 innings in the majors; he's even got Taro's "inverted W."  But the question is this year and a couple more.  You're not committing 7 years and $200M; you're committing a glamor minor leaguer.  Or maybe you'd rather just pay cash for a pitcher of his quality to Scott Boras?  ;- )

Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.  Zoom may be right that Beane, chuckling into last-moment auction pressure, will get back more than the White Sox got for Quintana.  Even at that, this one is a tough call, though.

My $0.02,

Dr D




Then you have more ammo for a move like Sonny Gray.  If it costs you Lewis, at least you have another OFer still around with big upside that you can move or use as you like. Since I think Kyle Lewis is a Grady-Sizemore-level player, I'd rather not do that. But I know why Oakland would want that back. Lewis is still getting back on his feet after the devastating knee injury though - his value isn't peak. 

After the system-gutting this offseason, the Mariners basically had the following types at the top of their system:

- Grady Sizemore (Lewis)

- George Springer (Tank O'Neill)

- Mike Leake (Neidert, with maybe a touch of Roy Oswalt)

- Ian Kennedy (Moore).

'Bach is a slow-learning Billy Butler type, but that really limits his options.  Povse was a potential MOR guy who is now a bullpenner. They have some bullpen arms.  But that's legitimately it at the top of the farm unless you believe in one of the centerfielders (Bishop, Miller, Taylor).

We just threw the George Springer type overboard for a Jason Vargas one, which... limits the upside bidding a bit. I don't think Tank is anywhere near realizing his potential in the bigs, but without his value in the system it's really hard to make a trade work, even after adding a Brandon Belt (White) and baby AJ Burnett (Carlson).

As I said last week: I think Seattle threw away its chance to add someone like Darvish or Gray when they traded O'Neill.  You can tell me all you want that the Mariners' outfield is loaded. I just watched Motter get booked and demoted, Haniger is OPSing under .500 the last month, Gamel is BABIPing .420 for the year while only hitting fastballs, and Heredia has an 87 OPS+ on a corner. And like Doc said, Dyson's contract is 2 months from turning back into a pumpkin.

I was in on O'Neill, Neidert, and fluff for Gray. Lewis takes O'Neill's outfield spot, and Gray is where we want Neidert anyway. That would have been Seattle's #2 and #3 prospects, essentially, which is a pretty big payment. Instead Dipoto traded our #2 prospect for what is essentially now our #11 prospect (hey Marco), and now in order to make the deal Seattle would need to dump the only hitting All-Star I see in the system, no offense to Evan White. It's just hard to be an All-Star when I think you'll hit more like David Segui. That puts all the growth requirements in the next two years on players who are already on the big-league club.

Several key parts of this team are about to age out. Felix is in the middle of a makeover, Kuma is done, Paxton is 18 months from getting a nine-figure deal, Cruz's roid-purchased aging curve is nearing its end, and Cano has about one more year like this (historically) unless he's juicing like Jeff Kent.  I get the sense of urgency.

I also just spent the last 16 years watching the Mariners tell me that it was about "Reloading not rebuilding" and mocking the Indians and their teardown. I saw them trade the offensive face of the franchise to Baltimore and ditch the #3 pitcher they needed to make the playoffs for scraps. Maybe I'm gunshy now, or maybe I just don't believe this group is going to do more than squeeze into the playoffs. 

Making the Sonny Gray trade now after the rest of Dipoto's moves would put Seattle in a redux of the Smyly trade. Maybe it works out this time, or maybe it's the final nail for this year's team and caps the Mariners for years to come.  Most GMs are not stewards of the franchise, and the guys who should have been were terrible at it.  Gillick gutted us for a really intentional run at a title. Dipoto is starting a bit late on that window. 

I'm just praying we don't get shards of glass in our faces by jumping through it when it's already shut.

tjm's picture

Wait a minute, G, I'm supposed to be the writer here. What a great line. Even though I don't agree with your overall take, I think you've framed the problem precisely. I agree that the Tank deal had a bit of spitting into the wind to it, but I think that makes a Gray trade more not less necessary. They've already jumped out the second story window. Be nice if they were holding something that made the heist worthwhile when they landed.

Whoa, block that metaphor!


if you haven't read Terry's book "Off Speed," you must.  The book is a delight and Terry writes with the easy clever wit of Bill Bryson (I hope that is an OK comparison, Terry).

if you are a Mariner fan you must read.  I finished last night, under a Coleman lantern, on a fly fishing trip!

Great stuff!

And the Tank trade will be one we regret!


Baseball history (pitch wise), insight to the greatest game in Mariner history,  baseball poetry,  wit and wonderful writing!

That's Terry's book.  Read it!

I am a huge Bill Bryson fan.  There is an ease and nonchalance to his writing that is terrifically readable, but wrapped inside is depth and slick insight, yet with a cool clarity.

Terry, your book weaves Mariner greatness, baseball history and your own mid-western roots in a way that is pretty special.

Bryson does the same, minus the baseball part.


If Lewis-Heredia-scraps would get us in the conversation, of course I'd be in on it. I think everyone would. The problem appears to be that it'll be more in the range of Lewis, Gamel, and then Billy Beane frowns real hard and goes, "Man, your minors are bad. If you give me my pick of like 3-5 non-glam low-minors guys and Povse, I'll relay that offer to the Yank$$s and Stros, see if they want to blow you out of the water."

It's not that no one should pay $4.50 on the dollar. Just not us, not right now, not when it would open another MLB hole. If the market somehow settles at $2.00-2.50 on the dollar, then I'd love us to jump in head first.


I go back and forth on how much the real price is going to be.  On the one hand, the price on Quintana was about 50c on the dollar I thought it would be.  On the other hand, JeDi himself is complaining about what all teams want for all pitching.

If Beane demanded Lewis, Gamel, Povse and two other valuable pieces I guess I'd have to pass.  Good stuff.


If we trade Kyle Lewis to the Orcs, it would send a message to all of our minors guys:  The Mariners don't care about your wellbeing, they don't love you, and they will sell you for illegal genetic experiments at the drop of a hat.  If you trade a 'spect to the Orcs, he's liable to live to haunt you one way or another.  If you want a good pitcher, trade Lewis to the Diamondbacks for Taijuan Walker or something.


Hopefully Grima will get that candle a little too close to the mysterious black powder and put an end to all their suffering in one swoop?


... for preventing the Orcs of Mordor from being a burthen to their League or their Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Mariners

Thanks for that, Mo. It's always good to remember that the Mariners are the Riders of Rohan, with the golden locks of Gamel and Motter streaming behind us as we rush forward to defeat the snarling horde of Orcs. We rescued an Uruk-Hai this offseason, cleansed him with elven magic, and installed him at 1B. This is proof that Sauran's minions are redeemable, which means we have a moral obligation to save the Orcs, not feed their ranks. As such, I think any 5 for 1 would be morally untenable, since we would be sacrificing far more mortal souls than we would be reclaiming. Best player in the deal be damned, we've got bigger things to worry about than baseball.

I hope Jerry's reading this. I want to see Zeus traded for the entire Oakland minor league system, and soon. We've got to sacrifice a god to save all those poor men. It's the only logical option.


Zeus for the Orcs!  Beane would just trade him for fourfold the minions he gave up.  I think the only way to get rid of the Orcs is to have that disgusting Orc Den "The Coliseum" condemned or quarantined.  


Hi Doc,

I am peaking at chess right now, and I want an SSI title shot at 10 minute blitz.  Do you have time Wednesday or Thursday for a three game series?  All I see is gold.  


since I haven't been looking at the game except for a drop-in 3 min here and there and forget the difference between a fianchetto and an isolani.  Maybe Thursday about 2 PST?


But when I'm the champ, we start playing on Alaska time.  And, I want half the purse.  What's an isolani?


without friends left or right.  Bob Melvin type.

if you've already spent your share of the purse, I hope you are not as bereft of friends ... particularly of the silicon variety!

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