That’s the question R.J. Anderson tries to answer in his latest article at Baseball Prospectus. The Athletics are famous for their high turnover rate, but Gray is a special case since he will only be entering his first year of arbitration eligibility after the season. While he’ll get a significant pay raise after earning close to the major league minimum, he will still be affordable for at least one more season for the small-market A’s.
As Anderson notes, though, Billy Beane has a history of trading pitchers before they advance too far in the arbitration process. That’s a way of saving money. Essentially, Beane is converting these pitchers into younger, cheaper pitchers on a continual basis. And there’s no reason to think he will buck that trend with Gray.
Back in January, Beane said the A’s turned down “some pretty aggressive suitors” who were interested in acquiring Gray. One wonders if Beane will have the willpower to turn down those suitors come the end of July or during the next offseason, especially if Gray pitches as expected and the club is offered some young pitching in return.
Gray, 26, finished last season with a 2.73 ERA and a 169/59 K/BB ratio over 208 innings. He was in the running for the American League Cy Young Award, but a pair of subpar outings in late September led to a third-place finish. He was shut down towards the end of the season with a hip injury.