The Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins playing each other was an opportunity for teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals to take a look at two pitchers who could be traded by the time the deadline arrives: Sonny Gray and Ervin Santana.
Santana won the duel between the two, shutting out the A’s in a nine-inning performance, striking out 8 and allowing only two hits, as he improved to 3-7 this season, with a 4.06 ERA. His strikeout rate is down to 6.6 per nine innings (his career number is 7.2), while his k-per-walk stat is 2.62, which is actually slightly better than what he’s done in his career.
Gray wasn’t bad, yet still lost. In six innings, he allowed six hits, one run, walked four and struck out 5. He’s 3-8 this season with a 5.16 ERA through 90.2 innings, striking out 7.1 per nine innings and his k-per-walk ratio is only 2.12. This game, this performance, was about him showing he’s turned a corner, and that this bad season isn’t a sign that he’s no good all of a sudden. He’s simply having a rough year.
Santana, 33, isn’t that easy to move. The one-time All-Star has a contract that is guaranteed through the 2018 season; $13.5 million in 2017 and 2018, before a team option of $14 million in 2019, but the option may vest depending on the number of innings played in 2017 & 2018. In 16 starts, he’s thrown through 93 innings, and has just one season of over 200 innings since 2012.
Gray is 26 and an All-Star in 2015. He’s still on the league minimum ($527,000) and is eligible for arbitration next season, while not becoming a free agent before 2020. Again, a lot more workable and attractive to teams looking for a starting pitcher.
The more desperate teams in that regard have to be the Cardinals and Royals, who are falling and fast in their division and wild card rankings. The Cardinals are third in the NL Central, something they don’t really remember what it’s like, while the Royals have fallen to 4th in the AL Central, struggling to cope with their World Series defense. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both doing well, battling (along with the Boston Red Sox) for the top spot in the AL East. The Marlins seem to be missing something when it comes to be taken seriously in the playoff race, but they’ve been quite clear about wanting to improve their pitching situation even before the season began, which should make them quite aggressive pretty soon.