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What the Sonny Gray trade to the Yankees means for the Rays

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The ace is now in the same division as the Rays.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have struck a deal with the Oakland Athletics to get their ace, RHP Sonny Gray.

Gray is on track for his third 3-WAR season since 2014 and is sporting an elevated strikeout rate this season (23%, three percentage points higher than his average), and will slot ahead of Masahiro Tanaka — who nearly no-hit the Rays over the weekend — as the best starter in the Bronx.

So yes, deadline day sucks.

Holy Moses, they got him for nothing

One key element here is that the Yankees only had to give up three of their top-twenty prospects: one grade 55, and two grade 50 players.

This includes their 4th ranked OF Dustin Fowler (No. 77 overall prospect), who recently blew out his knee, the 8th ranked SS Jorge Mateo, who has seen his prospect stock plummet, and the 12th ranked RHP James Kaprielian, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April.

A comparable deal from a Rays perspective might be their No. 6 prospect RHP Jose De Leon (No. 97 overall — 55 grade — injured shoulder), No. 11 prospect SS Lucius Fox (50 grade, Mateo profile), and No. 13 prospect 3B Adrian Rondon (45-grade, due to falling stock). Maybe it would take a fourth prospect to seal the deal, but this is not an expensive trade. It almost makes you wonder why the Rays didn’t disrupt the market by getting Gray themselves.

Gray has two years remaining on his rookie deal, which will add very little to the robust Yankees payroll, and keep him under contract until 2020.

What does this mean for the value of pitching?

As of this publishing there are 30 minutes left until the trade deadline, but might I note the cost of starting pitching is apparently quite cheap.

If the fair market value of Gray, one of the better starters in baseball with 2.5 years of control on a rookie deal, is two injured prospects and a third blocked on the team’s depth chart, how much cheaper might someone like Yu Darvish be right now?

I have been arguing for a Yu Darvish trade for the same reasons I suddenly wish the Rays had acquired Gray. By taking the starter for yourself, another team in need cannot have him.

Darvish is an expiring contract, so perhaps just De Leon, Rondon, and one more piece gets the deal done. If that’s fair, the Rays have no reason to be sitting on their hands.

The clock is ticking.