Sonny Gray will be returning to the top of the Oakland Athletics rotation for the 2017 season. After winning his arbitration hearing back in January, Gray received a substantial salary increase and signed a one-year contract that raises his 2017 income from $527,500 to $3.575 million.
So far, 2017 is already looking like a much better year for the 27-year-old right-hander. Outside of being back to full health and winning a substantial raise in his hearing, Gray has also been called upon to pitch for the United States in this year’s World Baseball Classic, marking three major victories for the A’s ace and its only February.
Last season was a difficult one for Gray who found himself placed on the disabled list six different times, including two stints on the 15-day disabled list. When he was able to pitch, Gray was not able to put up the same All-Star numbers he did in 2015. His record went from 14-7 to 5-11, while his earned run average jumped from 2.73 to 5.69. This was mainly due to the injuries that hampered Gray from April through the end of the regular season. The 2016 Sonny Gray was not the ace that led Oakland in 2015, but he is looking to return to full form as the A’s number one starter.
If Gray remains healthy, A’s fans will have another impressive year to look forward to. Gray has not lost his velocity or made any significant changes to the approach that landed him third in the American League Cy Young race in 2015, when he trailed only Dallas Keuchel and David Price.
Gray will look to be a spark to help the A’s avoid another last-place finish in the AL West. Looking at the past two seasons, the A’s have finished both in last place with nearly identical records, winning 68 games in 2015 and 69 in 2016. A healthy Gray will look to not only return to the All-Star game but to help Oakland turn things around.
Nick Prutting is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB covering the Oakland Athletics.