By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — After a poor and injury-plagued 2016 campaign was followed by an uneven start to this 2017 season, Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray looked a lot more like his old self Sunday in his team’s 5-3 win against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Gray was splendid in going seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and a walk while striking out seven. The attention bestowed on Gray on Sunday wasn’t just from White Sox hitters either. The Cubs had their eyes on Gray as well.
They were one of nine teams with scouts in attendance to evaluate the 27-year-old Gray, who didn’t make his regular season debut until May 2 because he was rehabbing a forearm and right trapezius strain that also cut down on his prior season’s work. Gray is 3-3 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.35 WHIP this season in 11 starts.
The Cubs are one of a handful of teams that are considering making an offer for Gray. Chicago executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been crystal clear on the message that they want to add pitching to an organization that may lose two rotation members — Jake Arrieta and John Lackey — after this season.
For a pitcher like Gray who has had both elbow and shoulder issues previously, the acquisition of him would be a big gamble. Of course, Gray’s upside is really big as well. He’s under contract control through the 2019 season. He’s making just shy of $3.6 million this year, and he’ll be arbitration-eligible this offseason.
“That was the best I have seen him this season,” an American League scout said of Gray’s performance Sunday. “When healthy, he has always been a battler. He was all of that against the White Sox.”
Gray didn’t bite when asked about the apparent inevitability of being traded off an Oakland team that is 34-42, 17.5 games behind AL West-leading Houston.
“The best thing for me is to stay invested in this team,” said Gray, who has a lifetime 3.52 ERA. “We have something good right here. Some of these young guys can really play. So the best answer for me is to get invested with this team and see if we can do something here.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.