A new era dawned in St. Louis on Monday as the sun set on another one in Minnesota.
The day started with Sonny Gray agreeing to a three-year, $75 million deal with the Cardinals and ended with him unintentionally punching Twins fans in the gut.
Gray was never expected to return to Minnesota despite comments he made at the end of the season that seemed to leave the door open. As expected he turned down the qualifying offer and received a deal with a higher AAV than the Twins were likely going to pay him.
Slashing the payroll didn’t help anything, although Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson rightly pointed out that the whole ordeal likely played little role in the team not matching the Cardinals offer. Based on Gray’s statements in his introductory press conference, there seemed to be a fat chance he was going to come back even if a competitive offer had been made.
It sounds like Sonny Gray never intended to re-sign with Twins
During his introductory press conference with the Cardinals, Gray mentioned how he had been thinking about signing with St. Louis for a little over a year. While the headline was that Gray has long been thinking about this day, the gut punch for Twins fans is that he never really had any intention of returning to Minnesota.
“Going into this thing I wanted to be a Cardinal. That started probably a little over a year ago,” Gray said. “Where I am in my career, I want to win.”
Gray was praising Cardinals fans while making those statements but it’s hard to not hear it and feel a little slighted. To be fair, Gray said nothing but wonderful things about Twins fans during his exit interview, which in hindsight was a farewell message.
Perhaps the most painful twist of the knife is Gray’s comment about how he had been thinking about this day for over a year. We’re viewing this through the unhealthy lens of Breakup Brain, but that would mean Gray was thinking about leaving the Twins before he embarked on his Cy Young finalist season.
The writing had been on the wall in black ink for anyone to read, as tension between Gray and manager Rocco Baldelli was palpable throughout his tenure in Minnesota. It’s unfair to say that relationship contributed to Gray deciding to sign elsewhere, but Breakup Brain will convince you otherwise.
What we do know is that Gray is in St. Louis, and the Twins now need to find a way to replace his production either in free agency or in a trade.