SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Many of baseball's top free agents, as a formality, receive one-year qualifying offers before hitting the open market. The Twins made sure Sonny Gray was no exception.
The Twins gave Gray a one-year, $20.325 million qualifying offer on Monday. The righthanded pitcher is expected to decline it in search of a more lucrative multiyear contract in his first career trip through free agency. Gray has until Nov. 14 to accept or decline the qualifying offer.
Gray is viewed as one of the best free agent pitchers this winter in a class that includes Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery and Japan's Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Gray's age — he turns 34 on Tuesday — is the biggest knock against him.
He will finish in the top three of the American League Cy Young voting, announced as a finalist Monday, after he went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts. He permitted only eight homers across 184 innings, and he totaled 183 strikeouts. The other AL Cy Young finalists are favorite Gerrit Cole of the Yankees and Toronto's Kevin Gausman.
The Twins plan to maintain contact with Gray during his time as a free agent, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said, but Gray should generate a lot of interest. The St. Louis Cardinals, for example, intend to add three starting pitchers this winter and they are targeting Gray, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"We'll stay in contact with him," Falvey said at an end-of-season news conference. "That process needs to play out to some degree. I'm really proud of what he accomplished over the last couple of years for us. We'll continue to have dialogue with Sonny, but that process is going to take some time to work through."
Gray is the second Twins player to receive a qualifying offer since it was introduced in 2012. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi accepted his $17.8 million qualifying offer in 2019. Players who received one previously in their career or were acquired in a midseason trade are ineligible for the offer.
The offer gives the Twins an opportunity to recoup draft pick compensation if Gray signs elsewhere. Assuming Gray's contract this offseason totals more than $50 million, the Twins will receive a pick after the first round of the 2024 MLB draft, around No. 32 overall.
The Twins traded pitching prospect Chase Petty, the No. 26 pick in the 2021 MLB draft, to acquire Gray and a minor league reliever before the start of the 2022 season. In two years in Minnesota, Gray posted a 2.90 ERA across 56 starts.
Gray, who was a finalist for a Gold Glove that went to former Twins pitcher José Berríos of the Blue Jays on Sunday, became one of the vocal leaders of the Twins pitching staff. He pitched five scoreless innings to help the Twins complete their sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays in the wild-card round of the postseason, then he gave up eight hits and four earned runs in four innings in a 9-1 Game 3 loss to the Houston Astros in the AL Division Series.
Camargo, Severino on 40-man
The Twins added catcher Jair Camargo and infielder Yunior Severino to their 40-man roster Monday before they were set to become minor league free agents.
Camargo, 24, hit .259 with 21 homers and 63 RBI in 90 games at Class AAA St. Paul this year. The 24-year-old Severino led all minor leaguers with 35 home runs, 24 at Class AA Wichita and 11 at St. Paul, while posting a .272 batting average between the two levels.
The Twins have until Nov. 14 to add more prospects, likely utilityman Austin Martin and center fielder Emmanuel Rodriguez, to their 40-man roster to protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.