Sonny Gray: "I wanted to be a Cardinal...that started a little over a year ago"

Questions about whether or not players want to come to St. Louis should be put to bed by the way Sonny Gray and Willson Contreras talk about the Cardinals.

Minnesota Twins v St. Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Watching Sonny Gray's press conference, you could tell he was a perfect fit for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Gray has known that himself for a while (quotes from John Denton's piece over at MLB.com).

"“Going into this thing. I wanted to be a Cardinal,” Gray said at his introductory news conference at Busch Stadium. “That started probably a little over a year ago. It’s a place that every time I've come here as a visitor, I've looked at the stadium and I've said, ‘Wow, this place is incredible!’"

Sonny Gray

Throughout his press conference, Gray lit up about the opportunity to play in St. Louis. Before free agency even began, reports were linking Gray to St. Louis, especially with the proximity he has there to his home of Nashville, Tennessee. But as he talked on Monday, he made it clear that other players want to be in St. Louis too, stating "When you talk around the league and talk to different guys who have been all over the place, everybody raves about St. Louis and the Cardinals".

Gray signing with the Cardinals is a huge moment for this club. The American League Cy-Young runner-up in 2023, he is easily the best pitcher the Cardinals have had in a long time. The last time the Cardinals had someone at the top of their rotation truly pitching like one of the best starters in baseball was in 2019 with Jack Flaherty. Since then, they've had really good performances at times from guys like Adam Wainwright or Jordan Montgomery, but not quite what Gray brings to the table.

I'm very excited about the idea of Gray joining the Cardinals rotation in 2024. I chatted with Redbird Rants contributor Sandy McMillian in the hours following the signing over on our "Noot News" podcast.

Gray, alongside Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, hopes to bring an edge to the Cardinals' clubhouse and push this team to regain their winning tradition in 2024. He will be a great mentor for young players, but more importantly, someone who is going to take the ball every fifth day and put the Cardinals in a position to win.

While the Cardinals still have a lot of offseason ahead of them, bringing Gray into the fold is the kind of move they desperately needed. Gray is vastly underrated among Cardinals fans. Throughout his career, Gray has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball, really only having one "bad" season over the course of his 11 big league seasons. For those calling his 2023 a "one-off", you may need to go back and look at his career numbers again.

The Gray signing would probably sit a lot better with fans if another front-end starter was added to this rotation, and that's something the Cardinals will at least explore the rest of this offseason. Now that they have three starters in place, their only "need" remaining is bullpen help, so they can get creative and begin to go after some "wants" as well.

Maybe that ends up looking like a trade for Tyler Glasnow. Dylan Cease remains a really interesting fit as well. There are people within the Cardinals front office who still really want Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Whether it's extending themselves financially or getting aggressive in the trade market, the opportunities to make this team a true contender are there.

We'll be providing more coverage for what the Gray signing could mean for the rest of the Cardinals' offseason, but for now, it's good to know talents like Gray still want to be in St. Louis.

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