It was clear Brian Snitker was afraid to use him with a game on the line – the Braves trailed 6-2 when he entered in the seventh, Chad Sobotka having just yielded the clinching home run to Manny Machado – and from that you could extrapolate that their opening-day starter five years running had fallen from his manager's good graces. Anthopoulos said later that month that the Braves would be OK with keeping with Teheran in their rotation, but that might have been a bit of salesmanship.
Gray-for-Teheran could be the classic change-of-scenery deal. (Sceneries, in this case.) They’re close in age: Gray just turned 29; Teheran turns 28 next month. Teheran is under contract through the 2020 season. Gray is arbitration-eligible this winter and will become a free agent at season’s end. Teheran had a 1.8 Baseball Reference WAR to Gray’s 0.6 in 2018.
The knock on Gray is that he stunk out the Big Apple. Away from there, he was pretty darn good. His numbers at Yankee Stadium last season: 59-1/3 innings, 45 strikeouts against 35 walks, a 1.904 WHIP and a 6.98 ERA. His numbers elsewhere: 71 innings, 78 strikeouts against 22 walks, a 1.155 WHIP and a 3.17 ERA. There’s nothing wrong with his arm. It just that he’s not, ahem, in a New York state of mind.
Gray is from the Nashville area. He played at Vanderbilt. SunTrust Park being on the north side of town, he might make it home to Music City in under four hours. (His mileage may vary, as they say.) He’d surely see the opportunity to join a burgeoning young team in the capital of the Deep South as the best second chance he’ll ever have, and the Braves could use another starter to keep from having to force-feed Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson into the breach.
As for Teheran: He just might take to NYC. He wouldn’t be starting on opening day. He’d be in a rotation that includes Sabathia, who made the transition from thrower to craftsman, which is essentially what Teheran has done the past few years. (Though it was never clear why he stopped trusting his fastball.) New Yorkers would note his non-deployment as a starter in the NLDS and would raise a Bronx cheer, but those same New Yorkers once saw the Yankees’ new manager hailed in a tabloid as “Clueless Joe.” The man’s last name was Torre.
I imagine there’d need to be some makeweights on both sides in such a deal, and I know Cashman would look at Teheran and see what all of baseball sees – a pitcher who has had three middling years in the past four. The one good year, however, was in 2016, when then-GM John Coppolella refused to trade him despite manifold overtures. Nobody’s beating down Anthopoulos’ door for Teheran now, but the Yankees have put themselves in a position where they have to offload Gray. They’ll eventually realize that they’re selling low, too.
And that’s it. That’s my venture into Armchair GM’ing this winter. I’ll let Mr. Anthopoulos take it from here. As noted once or twice, he’s pretty good at this.