Reds deal Gray for '21 first-rounder Petty

GM Krall 'really excited' to land fireballing righty prospect

March 13th, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds traded right-handed starter Sonny Gray to the Twins on Sunday for pitching prospect Chase Petty.

Gray is the second Cincinnati starting pitcher to depart this winter; left-hander Wade Miley was claimed by the Cubs off waivers in November. The Reds also sent Minor League right-handed pitcher Francis Peguero to Minnesota in the deal.

“I’d like to thank Sonny for everything he has done with our club,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “He’s been a tremendous teammate, a tremendous player; just a really great guy to have. Talking to him was really tough, but we felt this was a good baseball deal for us.”

Krall also acknowledged the financial concerns that figured into the move. Gray was entering the final year of his three-year, $30.5 million contract and was due to make $10.2 million in 2022 with a $12 million club option for 2023. He joined former catcher Tucker Barnhart as a player who was dealt because of payroll considerations. Barnhart was traded to the Tigers in November for a Minor Leaguer.

In 68 starts for Cincinnati in three seasons, Gray was 23-20 with a 3.49 ERA and made the All-Star team in 2019. The 32-year-old was informed of the deal before he flew to Arizona to report to Reds camp.

“Obviously, payroll has been an issue the last couple of years with some of the moves we’ve made,” Krall said. “We do feel this is a really good baseball move for us. We’re really excited to get Chase Petty.”

Petty, who turns 19 on April 4, is now the Reds' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and was the 26th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. He appeared in two games last year at the Rookie-level Florida Complex League -- with one start -- and posted a 5.40 ERA.

“He has a chance to be a high-end starting pitcher for a long time,” Krall said. “We’re really excited to have him. John Ceprini, our area scout in the Northeast, did a lot of work on him for the Draft. We thought we had a chance to get him with our comp pick [No. 30 overall] last year. We think he’s got a chance to be a high-caliber Major League starter or reliever, and time will tell.”

Petty has a big fastball that ranges from 95-100 mph and a slider that sits in the 80s.

“Chase, from the day we drafted him to today, has been a class act, model citizen within our group, and [has been] working to get better,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “So that does make it harder. You grow that relationship. But we recognize, you don’t get good players via trade without having to pay some cost. He’s done a good job while he was here. He’s still growing. He’s a good ways away from where he’s going to be, just because of how young he is, but I have the utmost confidence he’s going to reach his upside.”

If the Reds don’t trade their other two veteran starters -- Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle -- they will have two openings in their starting rotation. Vladimir Gutierrez is now in line to be the No. 3 starter.

The fourth and fifth spots will be open for competition that internally includes the organization’s top two prospects -- righty Hunter Greene (No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and lefty Nick Lodolo (No. 2) -- and a list that includes lefty Reiver Sanmartin and righties Tony Santillan, Riley O’Brien (No. 25), Jeff Hoffman and Graham Ashcraft (No. 7).

“It is a loss in the rotation,” Krall said of the trade. “We’re going to look to fill that, whether it’s internally or externally. We’re still looking at the free-agent market. We’re still looking at the trade market. We’re still trying to run our offseason as we’re going into Spring Training. We’re still working on that right now.

“We have guys that are Major League ready; close to Major League ready -- they’re getting there. It is something that is in the back of your mind when you’re doing this.”

“Looking at our situation with some of our younger pitchers, it creates an opportunity there,” Reds manager David Bell said. “People are going to step up, and as hard as it is to lose good players and good people, it does create opportunity for players. And we're really excited about our young group of players, young group of starting pitchers and that's the way this game goes.”

Before they participated in workouts Sunday, Gray’s former teammates had absorbed the news.

“It’s tough to lose Sonny,” lefty reliever Amir Garrett said. “I gravitate to a lot of guys, and I stuck to Sonny right away. He’s a down-to-earth guy, a great teammate. He was there for me the whole year last year. He was like, ‘I’m not giving up on you. You’re not giving up on yourself.’ Every single day I came to the field, he gave me a hug. That’s what kind of guy he is. He wanted to uplift everybody. 

“Minnesota got a great pitcher, got a great leader now in Sonny. He’s going to do great things over there. He’s going to be missed. We’ve got to continue to move forward, but he’s definitely going to be missed in the clubhouse, that’s for sure.”