Sonny Gray’s new teammates know that his acquisition means the Yankees are all-in on a playoff push.
“It’s exciting to get another No. 1 pitcher on the team and a guy that does have some playoff experience,” Todd Frazier said after Brian Cashman acquired the righthander from the Oakland A’s yesterday. “It just seems like he’s ready to get to it.”
Frazier called Gray “a No. 1 starter.” He added, “It feels good to get a guy the caliber of Sonny Gray. It goes to show you what we’re trying to do this year.”
Gray has been dominant in his last six starts, posting a 4-2 record, a 1.37 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. He struck out 36, walked nine and allowed 23 hits in 39 1⁄3 innings in that span, and hitters had a .164/.215/.271 slash line against him. Overall, he is 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA through 16 starts.
After selling high on big-ticket players Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran at this time last year and allowing the youth movement to take shape, the Yankees were aggressive buyers yesterday, acquiring Gray and $1.5 million in international signing pool money for prospects Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian.
The AL East-leading Yankees entered play Monday with a half-game lead over the Red Sox and made the type of splash that should benefit their present and future. Gray, 27, is under team control through 2019 and is arbitration-eligible in 2018.
To persuade A’s general manager Billy Beane to move his top trade chip, Cashman had to offer three prospects who ranked in the organization’s top 12, according to MLB Pipeline.
CC Sabathia said he’s fine with the decision to move those players.
“I’m an older player, so prospects are just what they are, prospects,” he said. “At this point, they aren’t really helping our team win. I love [Kaprielian], he’s a great kid. Dustin’s an awesome dude, too. I’m excited for him for the next chapter. For us, I feel like to get a guy like [Gray], you have to give up guys that are probably really good.”
The group comprised part of the Yankees’ second tier of prospects behind Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, two key acquisitions from last season’s aggressive sale.
The Yankees’ turnaround has been rapid. Said Sabathia, “The team’s confident. The guys in here are excited. Any time you can get that late in the season with a team that’s already pretty good, hopefully it translates to wins on the field.’’
Brett Gardner said this team has the talent to make a postseason run. “We’ve got two important months coming up, and a lot of baseball left to play, but I like where we’re at right now,” he said. “I like the team that we have, and I’m excited about it.”
Gardner said Gray “makes any rotation better” and that “he’s got really good stuff.”
Perhaps Gray will be the difference as the Yankees battle the Red Sox.
“Our goal is to win the division,” Gardner said. “The wild-card game isn’t good enough.”