Twins Acquire Sonny Gray, Send Reds Chase Petty
If there were any remaining doubts that the Reds are switching to rebuilding in 2022, Sunday likely answered those questions. Cincinnati traded away Sonny Gray, one of its best starting pitchers, and threw in a relief pitching prospect in return for a first-round pick (Chase Petty), but one who likely won’t reach the majors for many years.
The move is the second significant deal in two days for the Twins. Minnesota added a pitcher who will become the team’s ace a day after acquiring Isaiah Kiner-Falefa to be the team’s shortstop.
Sonny Gray, RHP
Coming out of the lockout, the Twins rotation has a lot of young and promising options, but very few veterans with any sort of track record. With Kenta Maeda injured, Dylan Bundy was the only projected Twins starter who has spent a full season in a big league rotation. In acquiring Gray, the Twins now have a veteran MLB starter with a lengthy track record of success to top the rotation. Gray has been excellent at his best (a two-time all-star) and generally quite solid. His 2021 season was somewhat erratic by his standards. He battled a back strain and a groin injury and spent much of the year experimenting with his pitch selection. He’s returned to throwing a cutter that he had largely shelved after he threw it too much in his final year with the Yankees. He’s also toyed with a new slider grip. But his success still depends largely on him locating his low-90s fastball effectively. Gray gives the Twins a durable starter as well. Other than the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, Gray has made at least 20 starts a season every year since 2011. Gray is under contract for $10 million this year with a $12 million team option for 2023.
Francis Peguero, RHP
Peguero is a fastball-slider reliever. He’s moved slowly so far, although the lost 2020 season helps explain why he has yet to pitch in High-A as an older (18-year-old) 2017 international signee. Peguero’s fastball shape is unexceptional but he does have plenty of velocity and he has shown excellent control. Peguero has walked only 10 batters in 50 innings over the past two seasons. He sits 94-96 mph and will touch 99. His plus slider is his best pitch. Peguero was left off the 40-man roster, meaning he would have been eligible for the MLB Rule 5 draft, but it was canceled.
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Chase Petty, RHP
In 2017, the Reds drafted Hunter Greene, the hardest-throwing pitcher in that draft class and one of the hardest-throwing prep pitchers of all time. Five years later, they’ve now acquired the hardest-throwing pitcher in the 2021 draft and yet another of the hardest-throwing prep pitchers of all time. Petty was the 26th pick last year. He was traded after throwing just five innings (in two starts) with the Twins’ Florida Complex League team. Petty touched 102 mph in high school, and at his best he pairs a plus-plus heavy sinker with arm-side run with a plus-plus slider. Like many prep draftees, Petty’s changeup is pretty rudimentary at this point. He has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter if everything comes together, but it’s reasonable to expect it will take a number of years for him to develop even in a best-case scenario. He was young for his draft class and will turn 19 just before the 2022 season begins. Greene’s development path is instructive--he was more polished and experienced coming out of high school, and he will likely make his MLB debut in 2022 with a shot of stepping full time into the rotation in 2023. A similar timetable for Petty would have him reaching Cincinnati in 2026 and settling in by 2027.