From the looks of it, the Washington Nationals are taking their time to find the right pieces to improve thier roster. One spot that they are looking to fill is who will be the fourth starter behind Strasburg, Scherzer and Corbin. Many think that Joe Ross might be that starter, but what if the Nationals trade for their fourth starter?
Just like every other baseball team, the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly placed significant strains on teams. One team that is looking to cut their payroll for the 2021 campaign, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network: the Cincinnati Reds.
Heyman also tweeted out a couple of days ago that pitchers Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray are being “discussed in trades.” So this got us thinking should the Nationals be apart of the discussions for either pitcher? Heyman also tweeted that the Reds are asking for “young frontline starters.” We know that recently Mike Rizzo has made it clear that all of the up and coming pitching prospects:
Let’s put the trade requirements aside and look at what one of these pitchers could bring to the Nationals rotation.
Louis Castillo, who is only 28, would be a great addition to the Washington Nationals pitching staff as Castillo still has three years of team control remaining and is also eligible for arbitration during that same time. We all know that Rizzo likes to have some team control left in his contract if he is trading for them. But the asking price will be too high for Castillo and might be a significant sticking point for Rizzo.
Taking a closer look at Sonny Gray
That brings us to Sonny Gray. Gray is currently 30 years old and will earn approximately $20.5 million over the next two seasons, and his contract feature a $12 million club option for 2023, making him a good pick up for any team. So the Nationals would have to absorb the remainder of his salary if they want the trade to happen.
Since Cincinnati is looking to get some financial relief in this trade, there’s a solid chance that the Nationals would be able to avoid losing any of their top 10 prospects and would also have control of the player for at least until 2023. It would make sense considering the amount of money the team would be taking on.
Looking at Sonny Gray’s Stats
Over his combined 42 appearances since 2019, the former first-round selection has compiled 231 1/3 innings, producing a 3.07 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.53 xFIP, 1.12 WHIP, .195 AVG, .264 BABIP, .267 wOBA, 29.4% strikeout rate, 10.0% walk rate, 19.9% LD rate, 50.9% GB rate, 29.2% FB rate, 13.0% HR/FB rate, 32.1% hard-hit rate, 5.9% barrel rate, an 87.8 mph average exit velocity, and a 6.0 fWAR rating.
Adjusting to hitters approaching him, Gray has adjusted his pitching selection and has focused on spinning the baseball more frequently during this time with the Reds. Over the past two seasons, Gray has improved his spin rate on all of his six pitches, which has improved each of their vertical andd horizontal movements.
According to BaseballSavant.com in 2020, among all pitchers who threw at least 100 pitches in 2020, Gray had the third highest active spin percentage. By improving his active spin rate, he has produced far more swings and misses with both of his fastballs, and in turn posting a career-high strikeout rate in 2020 with his four seamer (23.4%) and sinker (37.5)
It might be worth taking a look at both Castillo and Gray. Sonny Gray might fit better even if he proves to be too expenseive, which appears to be the case as of now. Hey, things might change really quickly.