Less than 24 hours ago, the Philadelphia Phillies thought they had themselves a new starting pitcher in their rotation.
They had agreed to terms with Pittsburgh to acquire left-handed starter Tyler Anderson, sending two single-A prospects to the Pirates in exchange. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal by any stretch of the imagination, but it gave the Phillies a reliable #4 starter, someone who’s averaging just under six innings pitched per start this season. The deal fell through due to a medical issue with one of the two Phillies prospects, which was followed by Pittsburgh shipping him off to Seattle instead.
It was a rather disastrous few hours for the Phillies — not quite how Dave Dombrowski wanted his first midseason trade to go down.
Nevertheless, with the MLB trade deadline creeping ever closer, Dombrowski and the Phillies have to move on in their pursuit of a rotation fix. According to MLB insider Jon Morosi, it appears they may have found their next target:
Currently pitching to a tune of a 3.68 ERA over 18 starts this season, Colorado’s Jon Gray has been one of the better starters in the National League this year. Not only has he been very productive through the first half of the season, but he’s doing all of it having made 10 starts at Coors Field. Coors is notoriously known for being a “hitter’s park” due to the elevation in Colorado, but it hasn’t appeared to bother Gray in the slightest here in 2021.
Funny enough, Gray actually has a better ERA when pitching at Coors Field compared to the handful of starts that he’s made on the road.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been named as potential suitors for Colorado’s Jon Gray.
Compared to the before mentioned Tyler Anderson, Gray represents a significant upgrade. Gray’s ERA would rank second best amongst all Phillies starters, and he’s averaging just over 5.4 innings pitched per start this season. Not only would he give the Phillies offense a fighting chance when pitching, but he would also more than likely put the team in a position to win every fifth day.
Outside of Washington’s Max Scherzer and Texas’ Kyle Gibson, Gray is likely the best starting pitcher currently being made available in trade discussions — which means Colorado’s asking price will be high. Catcher Rafael Marchan has long been a rumored trade chip for Philadelphia — hypothetically moving him for Gray makes sense on paper.
The ~$3 million that Gray is owed for the remainder of 2021 would also fit the Phillies goal of staying under the luxury tax this season. There’s been rumors of owner John Middleton signing off on surpassing the tax at this year’s deadline, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
The only hiccup with Gray is the fact that he’s on an expiring contract, which makes him a “rental” for any team that does acquire him. This doesn’t exactly fit the Phillies goal of building a sustained contender that bleeds over into 2022 and 2023, but beggars can’t be choosers. If Gray is available to be had and Dombrowski is able to construct a trade package that the Rockies deem acceptable, it’s likely a no-brainer for the Philadelphia Phillies.