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It’s Now Very Sonny in Yankee Stadium

Baseball fans, you can be forgiven if a wave of nostalgia swept over you Monday afternoon.

It used to be that the New York Yankees always plucked up the best talent via a trade with lesser, poorer teams around the league. Their dynasties of the past were built on such transactions. In particular, the Athletics franchise–in Philly or KC–often served as an unofficial farm team for the Bronx Bombers; that’s how they got Roger Maris, for instance, to keep the good times rolling out of the ’50s and into the ’60s.

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Sonny Gray: New York’s happy day…and more to come

Apparently, the good old days have returned to Gotham. With the Yanks acquiring Sonny Gray in a fleecing trade with the Oakland A’s, not only has the team set itself up to get better and make a run this year, but they’ll almost certainly have Gray to anchor the top of their rotation for many years to come.

Gray was the best pitching bet available at the deadline, as noted in this page’s previous post, despite the talk about Yu Darvish or the Tigers moving Justin Verlander or Francisco Liriano shifting over from Toronto to the Astros. Gray is young, very good, has playoff experience (he performed very well for the A’s in two games in 2013 when matched up against Verlander and Detroit), and is almost certain to re-sign with New York after his arbitration years, unless he somehow absolutely hates his next two and a half years in the Bronx.

That will set the Yankees up with a No. 1 starter–at worst a No. 2, if they’ve got a better option going forward–for the next several years, a guy who will anchor their staff as all those talented young fielders rapidly mature around him and in the lineup. We may look back in half a decade on this deal as the acquisition that jump-started another Yankee dynasty, in much the same way that signing Catfish Hunter as a free agent after he left the A’s helped boost the mid-’70s Yanks back into pennant winning mode three years running.

It may not get New York back into the World Series this year–Houston remains a serious threat, and the Dodgers or Cubs will be a serious hurdle even if the Yankees do make it out of the AL–but this acquisition will probably squelch any challenges from the other AL East bigwigs for several years to come.

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