There won’t be any extension negotiations happening anytime soon around the baseball world, though even prior to the league shutdown, the Diamondbacks and left-hander Robbie Ray weren’t engaging in any talks about a new deal, the Athletic’s Zach Buchanan (subscription required) reports. Ray is scheduled to be a free agent in the 2020-21 offseason, and he is still set to hit the open market even in the event that the 2020 season doesn’t happen, as per the recent agreement between the league and the players’ union.
An extension between Ray and the D’Backs never seemed overly likely, as the southpaw has been a fixture in trade rumors for over a year. Rather than be one of the prominent Diamondbacks stars to leave town via trade (i.e. Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke) in recent years, Ray now looks to follow Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock on the list of D’Backs who left in free agency. Despite this turnover, however, GM Mike Hazen has remodeled the Snakes into a team that looks like it could compete for a postseason berth if the 2020 season happens, especially after a busy winter that saw Arizona acquire Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte.
While last summer’s Greinke trade indicates that we can’t be totally sure that the D’Backs wouldn’t try to move Ray even if they remain in contention, Ray doesn’t have nearly the payroll impact that Greinke’s contract carried. Ray avoided arbitration in his third and final arb-eligible year by agreeing to a $9.43MM for 2020, meaning that he didn’t represent much of a financial burden even before the league shutdown, and Ray will now earn only a prorated amount of that $9.43MM figure based on the number of games actually played in the shortened schedule.
It’s a more than reasonable price to pay for a starter who has been occasionally spectacular but mostly solid over the last five seasons. Since coming to Arizona as part of the three-team trade with the Tigers and Yankees that sent Didi Gregorius to New York and Shane Greene to Detroit in December 2014, Ray has a 3.96 ERA, 11.3 K/9, and 2.77 K/BB rate over 762 innings. Ray has battled some control and hard-contact issues, and has consistently had difficultly keeping the ball in the park, though getting out of Chase Field could help address that latter problem. The 28-year-old southpaw has allowed 58 homers in 349 2/3 innings at Chase Field over his career, and only 52 home runs in 441 innings elsewhere.
Another good season would have put Ray in line for a lucrative multi-year deal in free agency, and MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes had Ray ranked sixth in the first edition of the 2020-21 free agent power rankings (written in February). Projecting what Ray might earn is now much harder, of course, given the total uncertainty of what next winter’s market could look like in the aftermath of the abbreviated-or-canceled 2020 season.