Trade talks between the Yankees and A’s about Sonny Gray were heating up on Saturday night, and centered on some of the Bombers’ second-tier prospects, according to sources.
A’s GM Billy Beane has backed off his previous stance of wanting either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres in a deal for the 27-year-old righty, who was scratched from his start on Sunday and pushed back to Monday night — following the end of the non-waiver trade deadline.
Class A Charleston outfielder Estevan Florial has become almost as untouchable as some of the Yankees’ other top prospects — including Frazier, Torres and top pitching prospect Chance Adams. The Bombers also don’t want to give up on James Kaprielian, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
It is believed that Double-A Trenton shortstop/centerfielder Jorge Mateo could be the centerpiece of a deal. Zack Littell was also scratched from his start with the Thunder on Saturday, prompting speculation that he could be involved as well. Hard-throwing Double-A Trenton starter Domingo Acevedo could also be of interest to Oakland.
The A’s have been scouting all levels of the Yankees’ farm system lately.
Gray, who can’t become a free agent until 2020, is a risk given his injury history. He has missed time over the last two seasons due to a strained lat, trap and forearm, but he has compiled a 1.37 ERA over his last six starts, dating back to June 25.
Gray was an All-Star in 2015 before going through an injury-plagued 2016 campaign in which he went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts.
He posted a 4.84 ERA in his first 10 starts this season, but has since lowered it to 3.43 — just shy of his 3.42 career mark.
Gray is pitching on a one-year, $3.6 million deal. He is arbitration-eligible again in 2018 and 2019.
The Yankees have tried Luis Cessa and Caleb Smith in their fifth rotation spot behind Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka with little success.
Sabathia, 37, and Michael Pineda (Tommy John surgery) will be free agents at season’s end, while Tanaka (three years, $67 million left) can opt out.
The Yankees may have been willing to deal Frazier earlier in the season, prior to his promotion to the big leagues. But since being called up on July 1, Frazier has been a sparkplug for the Bombers, hitting .268 with four homers and 16 RBI. He has 12 extra-base hits in 82 at-bats.
His success makes it more likely the Yankees would be willing to deal one of their lower level prospects, such as Mateo, who is hitting .258 with eight homers and 36 RBI for two different minor league teams this season.
Assuming he’s healthy, Gray would certainly bolster the Bombers’ playoff chances. Already in first place, the Yankees could use more depth and experience in their starting staff.
Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03) has been the team’s best starter so far. Masahiro Tanaka came into the season as the ace of the staff but has gone 8-9 with a 5.09 ERA.