Dodgers: Division-rival pitcher surprisingly emerges as trade candidate

DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 29: Starting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 29: Starting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Rockies had a nucleus that could at least give the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers some problems in the past, but with the trade of Nolan Arenado this offseason, they’ve dipped fully into rebuild mode.

Names like Jon Gray and Trevor Story have popped up in the rumor mill frequently as the trade deadline approaches.

Gray, specifically, continues to gain traction due to his latest run of form.

Picked third in the 2013 MLB Draft after a very solid career out of Oklahoma, Gray has spent the last seven years as an above-average starting pitcher for some Rockies teams that vacillated between unwatchable dreck and a legit playoff squad.

In 2021, however, Gray is on track for a career year while the Dodgers are in dire need of starting pitching. Could we see an in-division trade that brings the right-hander to Los Angeles?

Of the six experts surveyed in this article from the Denver Post, only one believed that the Rockies will hold on to Gray. Both Jeff Passan and Bob Nightengale stated that by the time the deadline dust has settled, Gray will be wearing Dodger blue. Wow.

Could the Dodgers swing a Jon Gray trade at the MLB trade deadline?

Gray just handled the Dodgers and helped the Rockies avoid a series sweep in Colorado. He tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and two walks while striking out seven. He lowered his season ERA to 3.68 and WHIP to 1.22.

Don’t let the career 4.50 ERA fool you, either. His 109 ERA+ during the course of his career shows that despite playing a good chunk of his games in Colorado and frequenting another launching pad in Arizona, Gray has been able to consistently pitch well.

The results this year have been particularly encouraging for Gray, as he has the lowest hits per nine innings and home runs per nine innings of his career. Traditional and advanced stats support Gray’s performance, which should have the Dodgers interested.

The only problem is, would the Rockies be interested in bolstering the Dodgers and helping them go for a second World Series title? The flip side? Colorado could demand serious talent from LA’s loaded farm system to lessen the blow. Steal from your rival if you’re going to help them, right?

With Dustin May out until 2022, Trevor Bauer’s status for the rest of 2021 still uncertain, and Clayton Kershaw on the mend, the Dodgers suddenly went from having too much pitching to in desperate need of a fresh injection at the deadline.

Gray won’t completely stabilize the rotation, but he should provide a welcome reprieve for a Dodgers staff struggling to put out their healthiest combination. In the playoffs, his explosive fastball can come in handy out of the bullpen, too, if Dave Roberts wants to go in that direction.

On the surface, a trade between these two teams doesn’t seem entirely likely, but guys like Passan and Nightengale suggesting it could happen offer renewed hope.