Nobody knows when the MLB lockout will end: there is no date set in stone, as two parties with lots of differences will have to agree on lots of things.
But after the lockout is lifted, MLB teams will go back to trying to strengthen their rosters.
For some, the trade market is a more viable alternative than free agency.
In a market in which contenders are always looking for star pitching, these three hurlers could be moved before the start of the season.
3. Sonny Gray
It’s clear that the Cincinnati Reds won’t be spending much in 2022.
In fact, they are reportedly looking to shed some salary from their payroll, and have made moves with that idea in mind: they opted against picking up Wade Miley’s $10 million club option, they let Michael Lorenzen go, and they traded catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Reports suggest they will at least entertain trade offers for one of their best starting pitchers: Sonny Gray.
Everybody knows that pitching is always in demand, at least good pitching, and Gray is a solid hurler with a track record of success.
Additionally, he still should have a few good seasons in him, given the fact he is 32 years old.
Gray didn’t have the lowest ERA in 2021, with 4.19, but other run-prevention metrics like expected ERA (3.25), Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP – 3.99), and expected FIP (3.66) show he was better and was actually hurt by the Reds’ awful infield defense at different points of the season.
With a 27-percent strikeout rate, he can still miss bats at the MLB level and is a solid mid-rotation starter.
2. Frankie Montas
Frankie Montas was suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the second half of the 2019 campaign and didn’t have a good 2020 (5.60 ERA).
However, what he did over that first half in 2019 (2.63 ERA) and during the 2021 season (3.37 ERA in 187 frames) tells us he is a borderline ace.
Montas rode a fantastic, bat-missing splitter to a fantastic season with the Oakland A’s, and was the ace of the staff with Chris Bassitt missing a few weeks with facial fractures.
The A’s are the only team in the American League West that is going backwards instead of making strides to contend.
A’s are willing to listen to trade inquiries on their veterans, including pitching stars Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. Should be huge interest.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 9, 2021
Montas could be a fantastic reinforcement for a team that fails to address the rotation in free agency.
1. Luis Castillo
Of all the talented pitchers on the trade market, Luis Castillo may be the best.
The Reds, as stated above, could become sellers even before the start of the 2021 campaign, and they are reportedly open to listening to other teams’ offers for Castillo.
Trade market news: #Reds RHP Luis Castillo, who had a 2.73 ERA from June 1 onward, already is drawing interest from teams across @MLB. The Reds are willing to engage in talks on the 28-year-old, who will be eligible for free agency after ‘23. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 8, 2021
The acquisition price could be steep, but Castillo could be worth it.
Castillo finished 2021 with a 3.98 ERA in 187.2 innings: solid, but unspectacular.
But he suffered a lot when the Reds insisted on using third baseman Eugenio Suarez as the starting shortstop in the early going.
After June 1, Castillo had a sparkling 2.73 ERA, more in line with his talent.
He has the highest ceiling of all starters on the trade block.