NEW YORK -- Sonny Gray's future likely won't be with the Yankees. After Gray's continued struggles in his first season-and-a-half in New York, the Yankees will try to trade the right-hander this offseason, general manager Brian Cashman said Friday at the team's season-ending press conference.
"It hasn't worked out thus far," Cashman said. "I think he's extremely talented. I think that we'll enter the winter, unfortunately, open-minded to a relocation. Probably, if he can maximize his abilities, it will more likely be best somewhere else. But then it comes down to the final decision of the price, in terms of trade acquisition and matching up with somebody. If we match up, then I think, yeah, it's probably best to try this somewhere else."
The Yankees traded for Gray prior to the 2017 non-waiver Trade Deadline in a major deal with the A's, in the hopes that the former All-Star would be the missing piece in their starting rotation through the season's stretch run and into the playoffs.
But while Gray had some high points -- including five innings of one-hit baseball against the Astros in the Yankees' Game 4 win in the 2017 American League Championship Series -- he never lived up to his potential. He struggled badly this season, with a 5.56 ERA through his first 21 starts before he was removed from the starting rotation and sent to the bullpen.
"There were times that he obviously showed what he was capable of, but he was inconsistent. And he's a good guy, he's very well liked in that clubhouse from what I understand. But it just hasn't worked here. So at some point it's on me to find something that will work better.
"I want to give [manager] Aaron Boone players he can deploy with great confidence, so that he has a chance for a successful outcome. If he has Sonny Gray still here come March, he will do everything in his power with [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] and [bullpen coach Mike Harkey] to get the most out of his ability. But at this seat right now, I would predict that it's in our best interest to see if we can match up with somebody and give them an opportunity to do that somewhere else.
"I think they'll be in a better position to unlock what he's really truly capable of and what we saw in Oakland, where he was a competent starter. It's all in there, still. There's no health issues. It's just, sometimes, things happen along the way, and we had that unfortunately."
Gray was left off the Yankees' postseason rosters for both the AL Wild Card Game and Division Series. He had an especially difficult time pitching at Yankee Stadium, where he had a 6.98 ERA this year, compared with a 3.17 mark on the road.
"Sonny Gray's not a bad makeup guy," Cashman said. "Someone, if they trade for him, is going to get the player that we wanted. If and when that happens, I fully expect that. But it just hasn't worked out here. It's not because he wasn't trying to be the best he could be, but for whatever reason it just didn't play well, it got on the wrong side of the mountain, and then the momentum of negativity in terms of performance kept going and we couldn't stop it."
The 28-year-old, who made $6.5 million under arbitration this year, is controllable for one more season, arbitration-eligible for 2019 before he's scheduled to become a free agent in 2020. Still, despite his team-friendly contract, Cashman said he thinks the best option is to pursue a trade for Gray, to send him somewhere where he has a better opportunity to be successful.
"While he's here, we're going to do everything in our power to try to find a way to tap into his talent. We've been unable to do that now for a year-and-a-half," Cashman said. "So we'll see. Just stay tuned. I've got nothing cooking, but I will plan on doing some cooking if I can over time. For his sake and for ours."
Sabathia has knee surgery
Carsten Sabathia underwent right-knee surgery on Friday, Cashman announced. It was a repeat of the same cleanup procedure the veteran left-hander underwent last offseason, with the goal of getting Sabathia's knee in the best condition possible heading into next season.
"The expectation is he'll be full-bore, ready to go, and the same type of pitcher that he's been -- which is successful. He's had an amazing career and has a chance to continue," Cashman said.
The 38-year-old will be a free agent this offseason. Sabathia has said that he wants to continue to pitch, whether with the Yankees or another organization. Whether the Yankees attempt to re-sign Sabathia, who's been with New York since 2009, remains to be seen. Cashman wouldn't address specifics regarding Sabathia's free agency.
Voit has edge over Bird for first-base job in '19
Luke Voit's strong play after the Yankees acquired him from the Cardinals in late July has given him the edge for the starting first-base job next season, Boone said Friday.
"We'll see how the offseason unfolds, but right now he grabbed that job. There's no question about that," Boone said. "There are all kinds of things that can transpire over the winter and on into Spring Training, so I'm sure there'll continue to be competition. But he certainly, with what he was able to accomplish for us down the stretch, has a leg up on those kinds of things."
Voit hit .333/.405/.689 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs in his 39 regular-season games with the Yankees, winning the everyday first baseman's job from Greg Bird, who dealt with injuries and struggles at the plate. Voit started all five of the Yankees' postseason games against the A's and Red Sox, while Bird was left off the roster.
"He certainly came over here and was given that opportunity and took it and kicked the door in," Boone said. "We're very excited about the player that we got."
As far as Bird goes, Boone said the 25-year-old, who was a key left-handed power hitter for the Yankees down the stretch last year, will still factor into the Yankees' plans, and he hopes Bird can return to his old form now that he's healthy.
"He'll have his opportunities," Boone said. "We've never lost sight of the fact that we know this guy, when he's right, can really hit."
Andujar's defense a priority for offseason
Miguel Andujar emerged as an American League Rookie of the Year candidate this year, but he still has work to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
"I think he can absolutely get there," Boone said. "I think the biggest thing it comes down to is footwork. He has the athleticism, the hands, the arm strength. I think his pre-pitch and his footwork are going to determine if he becomes that frontline defender at third base, too."
The 23-year-old was an excellent hitter, batting .297 with 27 home runs, 170 hits, 76 extra-base hits and 92 RBIs in his 149 games this season. But most defensive metrics regarded Andujar as a poor defensive third baseman. He was also removed for defense several times in the late innings for defensive purposes during the postseason.
"I do believe that it's in there and he can get there. We need to continue to work hard at it. This winter will be important for him as far as that goes," Boone said. "But I think it's really important to acknowledge what a great season Miggy had, and that includes defensively. Because when I got this job, there were all kinds of questions on that side of the ball. And I think he earned everyday at-bats, obviously with how he swings the bat, but also because he improved as much as he did defensively. … Now it's on all of us to continue to help him make those strides."