As long as Brian Cashman is calling all general managers to talk trade — including the Three Wise Men who are running the Mets — he might want to put in a call to Knicks GM Scott Perry or Nets GM Sean Marks.
Cashman is as well-versed as they come in the intricacies of making baseball deals. But he needs to bone up on how to make an NBA-style deal in which unwanted players are included simply to offset each other’s salaries.
Which bring us to Sonny Gray.
After Gray’s latest awful start against the Red Sox on Saturday night, Cashman has to make Gray disappear as part of his July deal-making — even if it means taking back some other team’s equally disappointing flotsam.
Cashman acquired Gray from the A’s last July 31 for three prospects. Eleven months later, we can fill you in on a little secret: Gray is not working out. And he wilts against the Red Sox, which by itself should be enough to stamp your ticket from the Bronx to Palookaville, or at least Kansas City.
After giving up six runs and seven hits in 2 1⁄3 innings in the Yankees’ 11-0 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday night, Gray is 1-6 with a 6.98 ERA in eight career starts against Boston.
He’s perfect as a Yankee: four starts against Boston and four defeats, with a ghastly 9.35 ERA. Leaving in the third with a 6-0 deficit against Chris Sale is not the way to make friends in the clubhouse or the stands.
“That was embarrassing for me from the first inning on,” Gray said. “I don’t know if ‘pressure’ is the right word, but it’s fun. I expect to come out and perform and make it fun. The way I’ve thrown the ball, I don’t think it’s been fun. I feel like we’re the best team in baseball four out of five days, and then I come out and do that.”
Pitching in Oakland in front of 15,000 people against AL West lineups is not the best preparation for the big stage in the Bronx. The ballpark here is smaller, the crowds are larger and not everyone can live up to the expectations that come when you put on the pinstripes.
In 11 months as a Yankee, Gray has a 4.68 ERA in 27 regular-season starts after posting a 3.42 ERA in five seasons with Oakland. He’s trending badly, with a 5.44 ERA this season. He was acquired to be the missing link in the Yankees’ run to the playoffs in 2017, but the guy Cashman thought he was getting is simply missing.
Before all of the fannies belonging to the sellout crowd of 47,125 were in the seats, Rafael Devers gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead in the first inning with a two-out, opposite-field grand slam to leftfield.
Boos rained down on Gray, as they did after he got the last out of the inning. They started again when Sandy Leon led off the second with a double.
In this era of big data, the Red Sox seemed to have a good plan against Gray: swinging.
In the second, two more runs came in amid many boos to make it 6-0. In the third, after two singles and a forceout, Aaron Boone finally popped out of the dugout to remove Gray. That brought cheers, which turned to boos when Gray walked off.
“I get it,” he said. “If I was out there, I probably would have booed me louder.”
Gray has an 8.25 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season vs. 3.28 on the road (eight starts apiece).
Can’t pitch against the Red Sox. Can’t pitch in front of the home fans. Not a good look.
Cashman, when he is calling around to find the Yankees the extra starting pitcher everyone knows they need, should try to get a team to take Gray back, too.
Gray’s salary is $6.5 million for this season and he is arbitration-eligible for 2019. Some team — preferably one in a small market that never plays the Red Sox — should be willing to gamble on unlocking his potential. Any more time the Yankees waste on Gray would be throwing good Sonny after bad.