Yesterday the Chicago Cubs were connected to Chris Archer, today the trade rumors are saying the Cubs are very interested in another hurler. The Oakland Athletics have been looking to trade Sonny Gray for the last couple of years but those talks have largely fallen through due to Gray’s injury problems and poor outings.

Buster Olney is reporting the stove for Gray is getting hot again, as it appears he’s beginning to pitch like the one time ace again. Part of the reason teams like Chicago might be interested in the hurler is because he’s still not posting eye-popping stats at first glance.

Olney goes out of his way to make the case for why he should be more attractive than fans are giving him credit for and why Theo Epstein is one who understands this all too well.

Gray back to All-Star form in recent outings and that’s attractive to the Cubs

Those who are just looking at the A’s pitcher’s overall season stats are likely going to see his 4.54 earned run average and decide to walk away quickly. Olney points specifically to a swing and miss rate that is on the way back up.

Last season, it was down to eight percent. In his last couple of starts that has gone way, way back up. Most recently the pitcher struck out 11 batters in seven innings against the Miami Marlins. Those 11 K’s were done with just 88 pitches.

The Cubs are likely to be paying special attention to the next couple of starts. Sonny has always been someone who gets swings and misses, when he is getting those swings and misses using his slider.

That slider use has been down while the injury problems has increased. In that same start against the Marlins, he used his slider a third of the time.

Gray is also hitting nearly 94 MPH on his fastball on a regular basis. That combination is one that should have Chicago fans drooling if only because his numbers could replace the ones Jake Arrieta used to be counted on.

Chicago needs pitching sooner rather than later

Olney believes the Cubs, Yankees and Astros are likely the teams most interested in kicking the tires on a Sonny Gray trade.

The big question is going to be who the A’s would want in return. The second biggest question is just how soon a deal might get done.

Billy Beane is well known for doing trades well before the deadline, if he thinks the price tag is right. Theo Epstein has shown the Chicago Cubs are also willing to trade well before the deadline. The two teams did a big deal just two years ago on July 5. Could a similar trade be coming as quickly?