Now that we're a few weeks away from the World Series wrapping up, the MLB offseason is starting to pick up some speed. Things will truly get cooking when the Winter Meetings happen in December, but there are a few different milestones between then to keep an eye on.
One of which is the deadline for players to give notice about what they plan on doing with qualifying offers that were extended their way at the end of the season.
Sonny Gray was among seven players who received qualifying offers ahead of free agency, which the Twins were hoping he'd accept and return next season on. It was a cool $20.3 million, which is nothing to sneeze at, but is far less than what Gray could get on the open market.
As such he didn't accept the offer and will instead test free agency when it opens later this offseason.
Sonny Gray is going to test free agency this winter
Gray wasn't alone, as none of the seven players who were received qualifying offers accepted them. For the record here are the other guys who turned down qualifying offers from their teams:
- Shohei Ohtani
- Cody Bellinger
- Matt Chapman
- Josh Hader
- Aaron Nola
- Blake Snell
- Sonny Gray
A few of those guys could be on the Twins radar this offseason, but Gray is almost certainly going to be somewhere else on Opening Day. There's a chance he returns to Minnesota on a long-term deal, but it's much more likely that the Twins get priced out.
If Gray were to come back on a three-year, $60 million the Twins might be able to make something happen. He's due way more than that, though, and could go north of seven figures depending on how the bidding war for him goes.
One wrinkle to consider is what the Twins would get if Gray leaves and signs a monster deal in free agency. If he lands a deal that's $50 million or larger -- which is the expectation -- Minnesota would get a first-round comp pick.
So at least the team won't be left empty handed at the end of this.
How will Twins replace Sonny Gray?
While it's a bummer that his time with the Twins is probably over, it's not surprising. Minnesota has been prepared to lose him in free agency for a while, and already there have been some names tossed out as potential replacements.
It won't be easy. Minnesota is trying to replace a Cy Young finalist who enters free agency as perhaps the best pitcher in this year's class. His innings will need to be effectively replaced in the rotation but it's his production that needs to be replicated as well, which is easier said than done.
Given the payroll situation, the Twins might first look to go bargain shopping for high-upside reclamation projects. Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, and Frankie Montas all seemingly fit the bill there, but it won't be the only place Minnesota looks.
Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are two of the most valuable trade chips this winter, and the Twins have already said they're going to use positional depth to acquire pitching. That's where guys like Logan Gilbert, Tyler Glasnow, and others enter the equation, although there will be competition for those arms.
There's also free agency, where Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, and Marcus Stroman could be options but it feels unlikely that the Twins will break the bank to land one of them.
Losing Gray is less than ideal, but it's not something the team is unprepared for. It's also not the end of the world, as there are options out there who could step in and help fill the gap Gray leaves behind.