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The Yankees are trying to inflate the market for Sonny Gray

Brian Cashman and the Yankees are trying to create a bidding war for a guy they’re desperate to be rid of.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

One way or another, the Yankees are going to trade Sonny Gray. At the outset of the offseason, Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke candidly of his plans with Gray.

“We are going to move him if we get the right deal because I don’t think it is going to work out in the Bronx. I don’t feel like we can go through the same exercise and expect different results.”

It’s a bit unusual for a GM to be so forthcoming about their intentions with a player especially when they’re negging the guy. One would think that drives the market down, but Gray’s issues in a Yankee uniform really do seem to be tied to the uniform. Since donning the pinstripes, Gray has pitched to a 6.06 FIP and 4.97 xFIP at home. Meanwhile, he has posted a 3.05 FIP and a 3.60 xFIP on the road. Yankee Stadium can be a tough park to pitch in, but those kinds of splits are extreme.

A trade would be best for all parties involved. The Yankees could be rid of a guy who, for whatever reason, doesn’t pitch as well in the Bronx as he does elsewhere, and Sonny Gray will get a chance to put together a strong year as he enters free agency. Even if the Yankees are desperate to get Gray out of their organization, they’re not going to dump him on the first team that knocks on their door.

Because Gray has just one more year of arbitration eligibility, he’s not going to bring back terribly much. That didn’t stop the Yankees from asking the Reds for Taylor Trammel, who is ranked 17th on MLB Pipeline’s Top-100.

It’s a bold move to be so publicly dissatisfied with a player’s performance and then ask a team for their top prospect in exchange for him. According to Cashman, 11 teams have expressed interest in Gray, so there’s a chance there’s a bidding war, but who knows how many of these teams are serious. With Cashman’s readiness to get a deal done, these teams might not be calling because they’re enamored of Sonny Gray, but calling to say, “Well, if you don’t want him, we’ll take him.”

In addition to the Reds, the Padres, A’s, and Brewers have been reported to be in talks with the Yankees. The A’s and Brewers are obvious. Both teams are incredibly talented and ready to win but are in desperate need of starting rotation help. The A’s got to the postseason with time travelers from the past: Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson. The Brewers almost rode Jhoulys Chacin: Staff Ace to a pennant.

I’d expect the Phillies to be interested in Gray as well. Since missing out on Patrick Corbin, JA Happ, and not being able to coax Nathan Eovaldi into a closer role, the Phillies’ options are dwindling.

Then there’s the Padres, who have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but their major league roster is in shambles. The Reds at least have a solid offense and are a handful of pitchers away from being not bad. The Padres don’t have much use for a pitcher that’s only under contract for another year, so they wouldn’t give up anything worthwhile. Perhaps they’re thinking they can pick up Gray for peanuts, have him turn in a resurgent year in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, and flip him at the deadline.

The Padres being in on Gray lends credence to the theory that Cashman is trying to artificially inflate Gray’s market by asking for Trammel and announcing there are 11 teams asking about him. Other teams don’t appear to be buying it.

Even if you throw out Gray’s home numbers from the last year and a half, he’s just been good-not-great, and he’s only under contract for another year. On his own, Gray will probably bring back three 40-45 FV prospects or maybe one 50-55 and a lottery ticket. Gray will be in a different uniform come Opening Day. It’s just a matter of what the Yankees are going to settle for.

Kenny Kelly is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and McCovey Chronicles.