OAKLAND -- As trade talks ramp up ahead of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the A's have pushed Sonny Gray's next scheduled start from Sunday to Monday.Right-hander Jharel Cotton will come off the disabled list and pitch Sunday afternoon against the Twins in place of Gray, whose next start will come
OAKLAND -- As trade talks ramp up ahead of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the A's have pushed Sonny Gray's next scheduled start from Sunday to Monday.
Right-hander Jharel Cotton will come off the disabled list and pitch Sunday afternoon against the Twins in place of Gray, whose next start will come after the non-waiver Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT Monday, whether it's for the A's or a different team. The A's will face the visiting Giants at 7:05 p.m. PT.
MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported Saturday that trade talks involving Gray have been heaviest with the Yankees over the last two days.
While A's manager Bob Melvin acknowledged the potential for the switch being made in part for the Trade Deadline, he said he valued giving Gray and the other Oakland starters an extra day of rest in the middle of a 17-day stretch without an off-day.
"For us, we felt like, regardless, it was the prudent thing to do," Melvin said. "He's been pitching on every fifth day, he's been out there typically seven innings for us. Keeping Cotton on schedule, too, it seems like everything works out a little bit better than way."
Gray is 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA but has been especially hot lately, carrying a 1.37 ERA in his last six starts. Opponents have batted .164 against him in that stretch, leaving Melvin impressed with how he's handling the rumors.
"He's doing fine with it. It's all about performance, and he's been performing pretty well," Melvin said. "Off the field, each guy handles it a little differently, but it has not affected his performance on the field, and that's the most important thing."
Gray is making $3.575 million this season and still has two years of team control remaining before he'd be eligible for free agency. At 27 years old, the combination of control, talent and performance has many commenting that Gray is the top target on the market.
If Gray isn't traded, Paul Blackburn will start Tuesday in Oakland and Sean Manaea will throw Wednesday in San Francisco.
Cotton threw 84 pitches in six shutout innings Tuesday for Triple-A Nashville, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out nine. After dealing with a blister on his right thumb for more than a month and only making one MLB start since the initial injury June 23, Melvin was glad to see him pitch well.
"We wanted him to have a good outing before he came back," Melvin said. "It's one thing to get up to a certain amount of pitches, and I think him pitching the extra time and getting to 80-something pitches allows him to get out there and throw 100-something. And I think psychologically, knowing that you pitched well before you come back up here is important too, especially for a younger guy."
Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.