The MLB hot stove season has entered some December doldrums, and the Oakland A’s in particular have been quiet as a mouse this winter. For a fan base accustomed to zany whirlwind offseasons, this stagnation might feel anywhere between refreshing or ominous. Days keep going by, but nothing is changing and no one is getting traded away. Personally, I’m getting a bit antsy. I’m not sure what to do with my hands.
The question mark with the highest profile this winter has been the future of Sonny Gray, and whether the A’s will sell relatively low on their fallen All-Star or hold on to him in hopes of a bounce-back. The latest word is more of the same: Sonny “has generated little interest” around the league, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports on Wednesday.
That’s it. That’s the whole rumor. Or non-rumor, as it were. Yes, the A’s offseason really is that slow, that for at least the third time I’m writing up a report that basically says, “Nothing is happening, especially with Sonny.”
That doesn’t mean we can’t still cling to this as good news, though. Plenty of fans would be happy to cash in on Sonny’s potential right now, especially any folks who don’t think he’ll return to form. But if the downside is keeping our latest homegrown All-Star, who also happens to be humble and polite and likable, and watching that guy play ball again in 2017, then I’m struggling to find a complaint.
(Personally, I remain 100% on board with keeping him, as I have all winter. His trade return won’t make Oakland compete in 2017, so we’re thinking long-term either way, and I think the chance of a bounce-back to ace status is more valuable to the future than whatever prospects would come back right now.)
It’s not often that you can consider it good news when your player draws little trade interest. Usually it goes one of two ways: You want to trade the player, in which case you want him to draw lots of interest so that you get a big return ... or you want to keep your favorite player, in which case lots of external trade interest at least means your guy is still good. This is a special niche third option — the player is popular and he’s probably good but his track record is shaky, so you hope the trade interest is low enough to force your team to stick with him rather than accepting pennies on the dollar in a discount trade.
Sonny was good (3rd in 2015 Cy Young voting), he’s young (27), and he’s cost-controlled (arbitration for next 3 seasons). But most importantly, he’s exactly the kind of star player the A’s never keep for long. In the midst of an ominously quiet offseason, this bit of non-news continues to be refreshing for A’s fans.