By CJ Carlson
Sonny Gray is off the market
A veteran right-handed pitcher is currently changing teams, with the St. Louis Cardinals signing Sonny Gray. The Cardinals have been known to dive into free agency lately and try to improve their roster by bringing in new talent. Gray is just another piece to the puzzle in St. Louis, and he certainly got a big pay-day to bring his services to the organization/
Sonny Gray was formerly on the Minnesota Twins, a place where he’s had two back-to-back great seasons on the mound. Over the course of 303 innings in the last two seasons, Gray has held onto a beautiful 2.90 ERA. In just 2023 alone, he pitched for 184 innings and threw for a 2.79 ERA. Oh, and he had an MLB-leading FIP of 2.83.
His stats didn’t go unnoticed either, as he was named to the All-Star game and was second in CY Young voting, barely losing out to Gerrit Cole in that category. Some sources have even been ranking Gray as a top 15 player in free agency this offseason, and the Cardinals were clearly aware of that.
Gray did have a qualifying offer from the Twins that could have potentially put the franchise in line for a compensation draft pick if he declined and signed elsewhere. Gray eventually did decline the offer from Minnesota and signed for over $50 million, meaning that Minnesota is entitled to a compensatory draft pick at some point after the first-round. Had his contract been under the $50 million mark, the team would have received a compensatory pick that was worse than what they would get now.
Negotiations helped Gray ink a deal with the Cardinals for three-years, and he’ll be entitled to $75 million in total. The team has a club option locked into it as well. There were some other interesting free agency options at pitcher going into the offseason, but Gray was one of the few that has pieced together consecutive strong seasons.
He’s going to be turning 34 years old soon, but he’s now showing many signs of slowing down when it comes to his numbers. He pitched to a better ERA than other known guys like Zach Wheeler, Luis Castillo, and Zac Gallen dating back to 2019. Simply put, he’s exactly the talent that the Cardinals were looking to bring into their bullpen, and they’re excited about the potential moving forward.
What was concerning was that Gray slightly suggesting that he might retire in the winter, which definitely turned some heads. The rumors started when he said, “Wouldn’t shock me if I didn’t play anymore after this year. Wouldn’t shock me. Do I want to? Do I think I can? Absolutely. And I can at a very, very high level. It’s not about the money.
It’s whether you still enjoy it, and does your family still enjoy it.” Now that he’s cashed in with this large contract, all signs point to retirement questions being a thing of the past. However, it could certainly be an interesting story if he changes his mind anytime in the next three campaigns.
It’s not all sunny for the Cardinals if you look on social media though. There are a lot of fans out there that don’t entirely believe that St. Louis shored up their pitching issues with just the Gray signing. Some believe that he’s not going to help them much at all, while others believe that he just won’t be enough to completely cover up their issues on the mound.
Of course, we aren’t going to know how true these statements are until the season gets underway, but it’s definitely something to think about as we progress through free agency. Coming off a season where they were 71-91, the Cardinals want to finish the season anywhere but last-place next year. Losing Adam Wainwright to retirement doesn’t help their pitching rotation either.
The Cardinals were torn apart for signing both Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson earlierr, with both of them being 36-years of age. Not to mention that both of those quarterbacks have an ERA over 4 in the last few years. Lynn in particular allowed 44 home runs last year, the most in the National League. Here’s to hoping that Gray can be what they need on the mound.