In Olney’s latest column listing players who will be traded before the deadline, the Cleveland Indians are listed among six teams who could be pursuing Gray’s services. The others are the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees.
Gray had a slow start to the season, but he’s turned it on lately with 21 strikeouts and just four runs allowed over his last four starts. The Indians witnessed how good Gray can be first-hand when he held them to two hits over six innings last Friday.
It should be noted that Olney doesn’t seem to be working with any insider information here, at least not that he’s disclosing. He’s simply saying the Indians are one of a few select teams that could be going after Gray. But Olney is connected to a lot of teams, and the Indians going after Gray would make a lot of sense.
As our own Matt Schlichting went into great detail about last month, the Indians don’t “need” a third starting pitcher. As least they didn’t then. But Gray is more like a No. 2 (or a No. 1 on a team without Corey Kluber) — every team could use another No. 2 pitcher. If Trevor Bauer can’t find consistency and Josh Tomlin can’t stop giving up home runs, it’s an easy upgrade to consider.
I even detailed how easy it would be on Twitter yesterday:
Unfortunately it wouldn’t be that easy for the Indians. If you follow the Tribe farm system, be prepared for some heartbreak if Gray does find his way to the Indians.
There’s roughly a zero percent chance the Indians come away from a Gray trade without losing one of Francisco Mejia or Triston McKenzie. It’s just not happening. Mejia is now a top-10 prospect according to Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus, while McKenzie is dominating High-A as a 19-year-old, which is ridiculous. Bobby Bradley is intriguing as a power-hitting first baseman, but he’s not a lock on most top-100 prospects lists.
Considering Gray is only 27 himself and only entering Arbitration 2 in 2018, he is not going to come cheap. At the very least, whatever team acquires Gray will have him through the 2019 season. That’s insanely valuable on the current market, and if Olney is right — if up to six teams are bidding against each other for Gray — the Indians are going to lose a couple top prospects.