Executives who’ve spoken to the Diamondbacks about left-hander Robbie Ray believe that Arizona will ultimately trade him this winter, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required). That move wouldn’t be the precursor to any larger-scale sell off but would rather be a means of capitalizing on a valuable asset in his final year before reaching the free-agent market. Ray, who’ll pitch all of the 2020 season at 28, was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.8MM in arbitration on the heels of a 2019 season that included a 4.34 ERA, 12.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 37 percent ground-ball rate through 174 1/3 innings. Walks and home runs have long been an issue for Ray, but only four starters in baseball — Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander — have a higher overall strikeout rate than Ray’s 31.9 percent dating back to 2017.
More out of Arizona…
- While the D-backs have spoken with the agents for Marcell Ozuna, they’re not in active pursuit of the free-agent outfielder at this point, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. Arizona could circle back to Ozuna later in the offseason if he lingers on the market, Sanchez adds. Speculatively speaking, that seems like an indicator that the D-backs aren’t comfortable with Ozuna’s current price point but could be amenable to a shorter-term arrangement if he’s unable to find the lucrative multi-year deal he’s seeking. Ozuna rejected a qualifying offer from the Cardinals in November, and he’d hardly be the first player to see his market stagnate due to the burden of draft compensation. There’s little indication that he’s in danger of that sort of limbo, but the D-backs are the second potential suitor in as many weeks who’ve had some cold water thrown on previously reported interest. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told MLB Network’s Jon Heyman last week (Twitter link) that Ozuna hasn’t come up in his talks with GM Rick Hahn, and the Sox have since acquired Nomar Mazara.
- Arizona skipper Torey Lovullo appeared on MLB Tonight this week and discussed a variety of issues, including breakouts from Ketel Marte and Christian Walker as well as the remainder of the team’s offseason (video link). While Lovullo isn’t the one calling the shots on any roster additions, he indicated that addressing the outfield is the primary focus for the club. “I think we’re trying to prioritize the outfield right now,” Lovullo said after praising the team’s pitching depth. “I think it’s fairly obvious we don’t have a lot of [outfield] depth in our organization.” Arizona non-tendered Steven Souza Jr. after a pair of injury-ruined seasons and has yet to commit to whether Marte will be a second baseman or center fielder in 2020. Marte’s versatility, as Lovullo notes, gives GM Mike Hazen and his staff plenty of flexibility when looking at how to best tackle the team’s remaining needs.
- As far as the bullpen is concerned, Lovullo said in a separate interview that while he prefers to have a designated closer/ninth-inning option in place, the Diamondbacks could “ask somebody to get four outs from time to time” next season. Archie Bradley’s ability to pitch more than an inning at a time and the 18 saves he tallied in 2019 are a “nice starting point” when trying to determine who’ll close for Arizona in 2020, per Lovullo. But the D-backs are also still in the market for another bullpen arm, so it’s possible that some competition will be brought in to join the mix of candidates. At the moment, the D-backs aren’t making any firm proclamations as to who’ll be shutting down games for them next year.