Jon Gray signs with Rangers after spurning Rockies

Aug 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) walks onto the field before a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gray’s time with the Colorado Rockies has officially come to an end.

The free-agent starting pitcher is in agreement on a four-year deal with the Texas Rangers, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Gray will reportedly receive $56 million over the course of the deal, which is pending a physical. That figure is nearly $20 million more than what the Rockies offered him as part of a three-year proposal a few months ago, per sources (and originally reported by The Athletic).

Gray will add talent and stability to a Rangers rotation that was one of baseball’s worst in 2021. He’s the second major free agent to sign with Texas on Sunday alone, joining shortstop Marcus Semien, who inked a seven-year, $175 million deal earlier in the day. Despite the large sum of money already spent, as well as the fact that one of the players they signed is a shorstop, the Rangers are far from out on another impact free-agent who has spent the entirety of his career to this point in purple pinstripes. Texas has Trevor Story firmly in its radar, per Passan, perhaps in an attempt to make up for a lack of starting pitching by assembling a potent offense.

As for the Rockies, Gray’s signing with the Rangers marks the end of a baffling series of maneuvers. Colorado opted not to trade Gray at the deadline despite there being many interested suitors, and the club’s reasoning was that it wanted to work out a long-term deal with the 30-year-old right-hander. But after failing to come to terms with Gray as the season came to a close, the Rockies chose not to extend him a qualifying offer, ensuring they wouldn’t receive draft pick compensation in the event he signed with another team.

Gray, who has averaged about 3 WAR per full season in the majors, likely would’ve been worth the roughly $18 million qualifying offer had he accepted it. Instead, the Rockies are left with nothing but a gaping hole in the middle of their rotation. Colorado has a decent foursome in Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Austin Gomber under contract for 2022 and beyond, but that last spot in the rotation is going to be a tough one to fill unless the likes of Peter Lambert or Ryan Rolison step up quickly.

Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt “felt good” about the club’s offer to Gray near the end of the season and has no regrets about not trading him at the deadline, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, who adds that Colorado was told by Gray’s agent that the pitcher and his wife simply wanted to go in a different direction.

Gray, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2013, ends his career in Colorado with a 4.59 ERA (107 ERA+), 9.2 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9 in 829 1/3 innings spanning 152 appearances, 151 of which were starts. He’s the club’s all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings and ranks in the top 10 in Rockies history in most other pitching categories.

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