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A Rockies Free Agent for the Twins


There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins will need to revamp their pitching staff this offseason. They currently have just two holdover starters, and looking to the free-agent market is likely. Maybe there’s a fit with this former Colorado Rockies pitcher.

Drafted 3rd overall in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, Jon Gray is a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason. He will be 30-years-old for the 2022 season and has thrown 829 innings for the Colorado Rockies. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Gray at the big-league level in that he’s posted a sub 4.00 ERA just twice in his seven seasons. Since his 3.84 mark in 2019, Gray has owned a 5.03 ERA across 37 starts. Calling that dominant would be a notable stretch.

However, what Gray does have going for him is that he’s consistently posted strong FIP marks in relation to his ERA numbers. It’s not that he’s been hurt by Coors Field, as he has better career numbers at home, but that he’s been hurt by the defense behind him. A career 4.59 ERA isn’t going to win any awards, but the 3.91 FIP is something that a better situation could look to exploit and expand upon.

Gray is a strikeout pitcher. Outside of the anomaly that was 2020, he’s consistently posted a K/9 north of 9.0, and his career mark is 9.2. The walks are manageable at 3.0 per nine, and while the home run rate of 1.1 is passable, it may fall getting out of the elevation in Denver as well. Gray’s 107 ERA+ suggests he’s been about a league-average pitcher, but you aren’t signing him for what he’s been as much as you are what he could potentially be.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Rockies attempted to extend Gray with a three-year deal that fell in the $35-40 million range. That’s just north of $13 million annually on the high-end and would fall below a potential qualifying offer for one year should Colorado decide to go that route. We aren’t yet sure what the status or implications of a reworked CBA will do to the qualifying offer process, but draft pick compensation would certainly make Gray a bit less desirable of a sign.

Realistically, the numbers reported for Gray don’t seem outlandish, and Minnesota should be expected to play in that pool. He’s not going to be in the top tier of free-agent arms, and while there’s a lot to dream on with his numbers, it still requires strong negotiating on his side to be paid for hypotheticals.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what Gray’s market ends up looking like, and teams will have guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Matz to compare him to, but he’s undoubtedly an arm that would be a fit for Minnesota. Bringing in a strong fastball, averaging just south of 95 mph this season, along with a plus slider, would be a nice set of tools for Wes Johnson to work with. Gray raises the water level of a group currently consisting of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. That’s not going to be enough for the Twins to experience a turnaround, but he’d represent a start.

For years, I thought Gray made sense as a trade target from Colorado, and so too did his rotation mate German Marquez. The latter is now inked to an extension, though, and the former is available to all on the open market. If the Twins want to dance, they’ve found their opportunity.

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Interesting Ted.  Would you put him in the same/level or group as Pineda for the Twins?  If they sign one, wouldn't go after the other?  Or could they go after both and have them lead the staff in 2022, assuming there is a season?  Add a cheaper veteran to hold down a third spot until Maeda returns and let all the kids battle it out for the last two.

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1 hour ago, roger said:

Interesting Ted.  Would you put him in the same/level or group as Pineda for the Twins?  If they sign one, wouldn't go after the other?  Or could they go after both and have them lead the staff in 2022, assuming there is a season?  Add a cheaper veteran to hold down a third spot until Maeda returns and let all the kids battle it out for the last two.

Interesting thought.  I'd have to feel that they could have both given Pineda's reported desire to resign with the Twins and the fact that he won't cost that much in the grand scheme of things.

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2 hours ago, roger said:

Interesting Ted.  Would you put him in the same/level or group as Pineda for the Twins?  If they sign one, wouldn't go after the other?  Or could they go after both and have them lead the staff in 2022, assuming there is a season?  Add a cheaper veteran to hold down a third spot until Maeda returns and let all the kids battle it out for the last two.

That does not seem like the rotation of a contender unless one of the kids emerges as an Ace.  The Twins followed this type of patchwork roster management under the previous regime.  They put together teams that we OK and were never willing to pursue a path that had a real shot at producing a contender.  This plan looks to me like it would produce a pretty good team for the next 2-3  years but the only way it becomes a contender is if the prospects step up.  So, invest those innings in 2022 with prospects gaining experience and proving which ones belong instead of dragging the process into 2023.  This strategy might be OK If we had an elite offense and shutdown BP.  We have neither.

 

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2 hours ago, roger said:

Interesting Ted.  Would you put him in the same/level or group as Pineda for the Twins?  If they sign one, wouldn't go after the other?  Or could they go after both and have them lead the staff in 2022, assuming there is a season?  Add a cheaper veteran to hold down a third spot until Maeda returns and let all the kids battle it out for the last two.

Sign both Pineda and Gray. I've been an advocate for Gray in several of my posts. SIGN BUCK !

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It's interesting that Gray has pitched more effectively at home than on the road, even with a PPF (Pitchers Park Factor) of about 116 (inflates hitting) for Coors Field over his career. I would have thought his away stats would be better. Not a deal breaker but something to consider when considering how he would pitch with Target Field as his home.

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so a rotation of Gray, Miley, Pineda, Ober, and Ryan.  This is affordable decent rotation where Gray is likely a 3-5 year contract at around 13-16 million per season.  Miley has 1 year left at 10 million and Pineda will likely have 2 years at I am guessing 11-13 million per season,  Ryan and Ober could be replaced at any time due to injury and ineffectiveness.  I say this because we have 5 or 6 top pitching prospects getting close to the Majors and they will need opportunities at some point.  Some could get bullpen shots to start but some will earn a rotation spot and it will be nice to have the ability to plug them in to the rotation.... Lets go see how this works on the Twins financial spreadsheet that was provided earlier by Twins daily....

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I really like the upside on Gray and I think he is someone who would be willing to sign with the Twins unlike some of the top tier free agent starting pitchers.  Sign Buck!  Sign Buck!  Sign Buck! Sign Buck! Sign Buck! Sign Buck! Sign Buck!                   Oh, and did I mention I think we should sign Byron Buxton to an extension?  

 

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I'm not interested in Gray. It's not surprising he's performed better at Coors as he's a 50% ground ball pitcher. The fly ball pitchers are the ones who get into trouble at Coors with baseballs that carry to the moon and back through the thin Denver air. Gray's struggles in 2020 are no doubt a realization of those splits where he dropped from a career 1.58:1 GB/FB rate to a 0.96 rate. Fly balls in Coors are bad news.

I'd say Jon Gray is pretty similar to Kyle Gibson, but probably a little better. Pencil Gray in as a nice #4 starter. That said, the Twins don't need a #4 starter.

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12 hours ago, bean5302 said:

I'm not interested in Gray. It's not surprising he's performed better at Coors as he's a 50% ground ball pitcher. The fly ball pitchers are the ones who get into trouble at Coors with baseballs that carry to the moon and back through the thin Denver air. Gray's struggles in 2020 are no doubt a realization of those splits where he dropped from a career 1.58:1 GB/FB rate to a 0.96 rate. Fly balls in Coors are bad news.

I'd say Jon Gray is pretty similar to Kyle Gibson, but probably a little better. Pencil Gray in as a nice #4 starter. That said, the Twins don't need a #4 starter.

League average pitching is a 4th starter? Good luck building a team in a hurry through acquisition by trades and free agency. Of the 396 pitchers listed by fangraphs as starters, Jon Gray ranks as 57th best when he is not having a good year.  You call that a fourth starter. 

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He should be considered, however not sure he would be a wise investment even at 3 years at $15/year.  What the Twins rotation needs most is a pitcher that can provide innings.  Not one of their top prospects can be expected to pitch for much more than 100 innings next year, and that includes Ober and Ryan.  I don’t care if the guy is classified as a #1 or 5, whatever ever that means any way.  They need some starters than could be expected to provide 150 innings next year.

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I would be interested in him for short term.  He is aging and the question will be can he adjust to losing velo most likely and get something out of not being in CO.  As pointed out being in CO may not be the issue but lack of defense.  Not sure our defense will be that much of a boost when Buxton gets hurt.  

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6 hours ago, old nurse said:

League average pitching is a 4th starter? Good luck building a team in a hurry through acquisition by trades and free agency. Of the 396 pitchers listed by fangraphs as starters, Jon Gray ranks as 57th best when he is not having a good year.  You call that a fourth starter. 

So call him a #3 starter if it bends you out of shape. Of starters with 140+ innings pitched, Gray's 2.3 fWAR ranks him at  44 of 68 which would put him as a 4th starter by a linear percentage. Since Fangraphs defaults to "Qualified" you literallly had to change your settings making Min IP = 0 innings to manipulate your data set. You using pitchers with literally 0.1 innings pitched as a way to inflate Gray's performance is beyond misleading.

FWIW, I'd say this was a pretty average year for Gray. His career ERA+ is 104. This past season, it was... 104. His career xFIP is 3.80, but it's trended up over the past 3 years at 3.89, 5.68 and 4.04 this season.

The Twins need front of the rotation arms and that does not describe Gray, who will undoubtedly make a solid addition for a team who needs somebody to fill out the mid-back of their rotation.

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I could see signing Gray to a 3-5 year 15-17m a year kind of contract. Not sure if those numbers are high enough, but I think they might be. He would slot in as a #2/3 along with Pineda. This works IF the Twins go out and sign at least a semi-legit #1 like Stroman or Ray, or trade for that guy. Alternatively, sign Jon Gray and Pineda, and trade for Sonny Gray. Yes, that's a rotation of #2/#3 types followed by young kids. It might be more doable and that kind of rotation can get you into the playoffs in the short term. Long term, one of the kids has to develop into Berrios or better.  Not sure if we have that pitcher but may be we do....  

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4 hours ago, bean5302 said:

So call him a #3 starter if it bends you out of shape. Of starters with 140+ innings pitched, Gray's 2.3 fWAR ranks him at  44 of 68 which would put him as a 4th starter by a linear percentage. Since Fangraphs defaults to "Qualified" you literallly had to change your settings making Min IP = 0 innings to manipulate your data set. You using pitchers with literally 0.1 innings pitched as a way to inflate Gray's performance is beyond misleading.

FWIW, I'd say this was a pretty average year for Gray. His career ERA+ is 104. This past season, it was... 104. His career xFIP is 3.80, but it's trended up over the past 3 years at 3.89, 5.68 and 4.04 this season.

The Twins need front of the rotation arms and that does not describe Gray, who will undoubtedly make a solid addition for a team who needs somebody to fill out the mid-back of their rotation.

It doesn’t bend me out of shape. It just amazes me the lack of understanding what is out there for pitching that people show. And the context for the numbers

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