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  • Offseason Trade Target: Fixing Jon Gray's Slider

    Cody Christie

    Entering the off-season, the Twins have multiple spots open in their rotation. While these openings can be filled by internal options, Minnesota has an opportunity to look outside the organization for more depth in the starting rotation. Colorado’s Jon Gray is one name that will circulate the trade rumor mill this winter and the Twins need to be part of that discussion.

    Image courtesy of © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2020 season did not go well for plenty of players as the Twins saw with Jake Odorizzi. With many unique circumstances surrounding a shortened season, it’s going to be tough for teams to evaluate starters on 8-12 appearances. Gray certainly fits that mold as he was limited to eight starts and had a 6.69 ERA and a 5.1 SO/9, both totals were the worst of his career.

    Gray’s season was cut short after suffering right shoulder inflammation and then he didn’t have time to build back up before season’s end. His 2020 struggles might be tied to him pitching through this injury. Over the last four seasons, he has posted a 4.50 ERA with 1.34 WHIP and 8.9 SO/9, so there have been ups and downs in recent years.

    Looking into his contract situation, Gray is arbitration eligible for the final time this winter. He made $5.6 million through arbitration last year and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to be in roughly that same range for the coming season ($5.6-6.5 million). To put that in perspective, the Twins paid two members of their rotation more than that last season (Jake Odorizzi, $17.8 million; Michael Pineda, $10 million).

    Pitching in Coors Field for 50% of a player’s starts can be tough on the overall numbers by the end of multiple seasons. Against Gray, opponents have hit .268/.320/.435 (.755), but within those numbers is a .327 BAbip which means a certain amount of luck might be involved for hitters. His second most starts have come at Petco Park, a pitcher friendly ballpark, and batter’s OPS is over 120 points lower. Putting Gray at Target Field for half his starts likely puts him somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

    Another area to consider with Gray is his pitch selection and the possibility of unlocking even more potential. The Twins did this with Kenta Maeda this past season as he saw increased use in his slider and changeup which meant he was using his four seamer less often. Fans saw those positive results as Maeda was the team’s most consistent starting pitcher for the entire season.

    Gray relies on five pitches, a four seamer (48.3%), a slider (29.2%), a changeup (13.1%), a curve (8.4%) and a sinker (1.1%). His biggest change last season was an increased use of his changeup which increased by over 10% from the 2019 season. His fastball velocity consistently ranks high, but there isn’t a lot of movement on this pitch. Could Wes Johnson work some of his magic and get Gray to rely more on his secondary pitches?

    Everything with Gray is going to come down to the health of his throwing shoulder. He might be worth the risk if the Twins get a look at his medicals and everything checks out. The cost likely wouldn’t be very high with one arbitration year left and his poor performance in 2020.

    Do you think the Twins should make a play for Jon Gray? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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    There was a lot of talk about Gray earlier comparing him to Garret Cole. Lot of the numbers matched up then but w/ one big difference, he doesn`t come close to Cole`s spin rate or the movement of his 4 seamer. Moving away from Coors will be a great benefit, he`ll have to totally revamp his pitch selection & mind set. Although I`m not as high on him as before, I still think he could be a very good pitcher. I`d be for a trade depending who we trade for him. Colorado must be demoralized after this season, they probably want to rebuild

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    I don’t see Gray being much of an addition at this point. Maybe there’s some upside still to unlock, but I’m not sure it would be worth the effort. Given where the Twins are as a team, I think it makes more sense to give the young arms a chance while bringing in a couple veterans as backup options. I suppose Gray could fit that Bill...

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    Down year and an injury are a tough combo to establish value, but this is a guy that looked elite less than a year ago. I bet the demand/cost would be pretty high. I don’t think we are gonna be seeing another Graterol/Maeda type deal. Although, I’d be happy with Gray on the team if no lingering shoulder issues.

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    I like Brandon Warne's idea of swapping Rosie for Gray. Pretty fair trade idea since they are both nontender candidates. He could take the 5th spot if we sign Odo or Gausman as our 4th starter.

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    I don't know. I wouldn't be opposed to Gray if the deal worked out OK from the Twins side. In other words, fair but no overpay. He's young enough that a new team, a new pitching coach, and being away from Coors Field could provide some upside.


    I think I'm still partial to the Musgrove trade idea with Pittsburgh. A year younger and just a feel the upside might be better. Just a bunch.


    NOT opposed to a trade option and the FO seems to have an eye for arm talent. But right now, I'm still sold on a healthy Odorizzi back.

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    If his value is on the low end, why would Rockies look to move him now?  Unless there are teams that believe they can unlock his full potential when he was drafted, few teams will give up much at this point.  Rockies should hold onto him, if they think they can get some good numbers from him early in the season and flip him for more on a rental, when competing teams will give up a little more.  


    I am sure the Rockies will shop him, I am just guessing the waters will be luke warm at best for him right now. 

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    I see a guy whose numbers suggest that he can't find the plate and is forced to throw his low movement FB to keep from walking guys and pays the price for it.  Moving away from Coors will put him in heavier air, which will help the movement on the FB but will also exacerbate his plate finding issues with the rest of his pitches. With the previous shoulder issues and a plan to get him to use the slider more will probably earn him TJ surgery in 1-2 years in trying to 'remake' his throwing motion.

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    Why should we go after injured players? Can we get a real medical report that will show he is worth the risk? Otherwise, we'll just have another mid-high priced player watching from who knows where. As for trading Rosey for him or anybody? That's a no-no in my book.

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