Minnesota Twins Get Much Needed Rotation Help With Sonny Gray

The Minnesota Twins stayed busy over the weekend adding proven big league arm Sonny Gray to help bolster a barren rotation.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 29: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 29, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Twins have been one of the busiest teams in baseball over the weekend. On Saturday, they added infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa in a surprising swap for catcher Mitch Garver. A day later, Minnesota acquired Sonny Gray to their rotation in exchange for 2021 first round pick Chase Petty.

The IKF for Garver trade drew mixed reviews from Twins fans because of Garver’s ability to swing it as well as any catcher in baseball when healthy, but the team has a younger and potentially more well rounded catcher in Ryan Jeffers and now has found its everyday shortstop with Kiner-Falefa.

The Sonny Gray deal seems to be drawing more positive reviews from Twins fans, which isn’t very surprising. Any time you trade a minor leaguer for a proven big leaguer, it typically implies that you want to win now as a franchise. Twins fans have been left wondering what the direction of their team is and up until this past weekend, GM Thad Levine had given fans few clues.

It would’ve been hard to convince people that you are trying to win now with the rotation that the Twins were sporting. Even with the acquisition of Gray, there is still more work to do. That said, Minnesota’s rotation just got a lot better and more experienced.

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The table below is a great reminder of just how badly someone like Gray was needed in this rotation, but with Kenta Maeda eyeing a September return, the Twins could and should try to make another tried to add a proven starter. Minnesota also has prospect arms Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran presumably not too far off from contributing in some capacity, however expecting significant contributions from either could set the Twins up poorly for 2022.

1. Sonny Gray (2021 Stats: 135.1 IP – 4.19 ERA)
2. Bailey Ober (2021 Stats: 92.1 IP – 4.19 ERA)
3. Dylan Bundy (2021 Stats: 90.2 IP – 6.06 ERA)
4. Joe Ryan (2021 Stats: 26.2 IP – 4.05 ERA)
5. Randy Dobnak (2021 Stats: 50.2 IP – 7.64 ERA
Potential 2022 Twins Rotation

Gray was solid last year for the Reds, but felt the wrath of Great American Ballpark. Gray produced a 3.44 ERA/3.20 FIP on the road while getting touched up to a 4.89 ERA and 4.73 FIP at home. According to Baseball Savant’s Park Factor, Gray will be swapping out baseball’s third most hitter friendly environment for the 18th in Target Field. With a third consecutive season of being among the top 30 starters in baseball in K% and his lowest BB% since 2017, the 32-year-old Gray could easily push back into frontline form in his new environment. Gray also comes an an affordable deal, owed just $10.2 million in 2022 with a $12 million club option in 2023.

For Reds fans, a similar sentiment could be shared in regards to murky messages from ownership and lack of direction. This Sonny Gray for Chase Petty swap provides some clue into the direction of the Reds as well, unfortunately, it seems like an answer the Cincinnati faithful were hoping to avoid.

That’s not to say the return isn’t solid. Chase Petty was just selected 26th overall in last year’s draft and has one of the few arms in professional baseball that could rival Hunter Greene’s. Selected out of Mainland Regional High School in New Jersey, Petty has already been clocked at 102 mph with life. There’s some effort in his delivery, but his slider is already plus and the right-hander has already shown a feel for for his changeup. Petty’s profile comes with a good deal of reliever risk, however his upside tantalizing. Petty now joins Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo as one of the more electric pitching prospect trios in the minors.

It doesn’t sound like either team is done. The Twins will likely look to keep adding while the Reds would presumably continue to subtract. In a vacuum, the return is a good one for Cincinnati. The Twins are in a difficult spot organizational depth wise because it would make no sense for them to trade a close to big league ready arm like Jordan Balazovic and there was almost no chance they would part with Austin Martin, Royce Lewis or Jose Miranda.

The Twins are also very excited about pitching prospects: Matt Canterino, Josh Winder and Simeon Woods-Richardson which could’ve contributed to them feeling as though Petty was a bit expendable in the right deal. While Petty may have a higher ceiling than the aforementioned arms, he is years away from pitching at Target Field and comes with the aforementioned risky profile.

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I know it might not be what Reds fans want to hear, but they obtained as much upside as possible in this deal.

“I don’t want to hear about upside” is probably what some of you Cincinnati faithful are saying and I don’t blame you. Lets see if this was just a trimming of the over 30 year old arms for the Reds with Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft knocking on the door, or the beginning of a bit of a sell off from Bob Castellini’s team.