Although Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray reportedly isn’t on the block, he’s nonetheless drawing trade interest, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Both the Astros and Phillies “are very interested” in Ray, Cafardo writes.
Arizona made one notable future-oriented move earlier this offseason when it traded superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis, though indications are the Diamondbacks aren’t set to rebuild. As a result, the club may keep Ray and other valuable veterans with the hope that it’ll bounce back from an 82-win 2018 next season. It’s clear, though, that Ray stands out as one of the D-backs’ most appealing trade chips.
Just 27 years old, Ray is fresh off his fourth straight productive season in the desert, where he has posted a 3.84 ERA/3.81 FIP with 11.03 K/9, 4.00 BB/9 and a 42.5 percent groundball rate in 587 2/3 innings since 2015. Ray did experience some travails in 2018, an injury-shortened season in which he logged an ugly walk rate (5.09 per nine), a low groundball percentage (39.2) and an unspectacular FIP (4.31) over 123 2/3 frames. At the same time, though, Ray managed a respectable ERA (3.93) and, among hurlers who threw at least 120 innings, finished fifth in K/9 (12.01), 17th in swinging-strike rate (12.9 percent) and 26th in infield fly percentage (11.9).
Because Ray’s a proven, in-his-prime starter with two years of affordable control remaining – he’ll make a projected $6.1MM in 2019 – it’s likely he has garnered interest from several teams besides Houston and Philadelphia this offseason. Regardless, the fact that those two clubs are eyeing Ray makes sense.
While the Astros’ starting unit features three established veterans in co-aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole and solid mid-rotation arm Collin McHugh, they’ve already said goodbye to Charlie Morton in free agency, and Dallas Keuchel may be next to sign elsewhere. Further, before free agency commenced, the Astros lost Lance McCullers Jr. for 2019 on account of Tommy John surgery. As a result, their rotation has two question marks in it heading into next season, and each of Verlander, Cole and McHugh are slated to hit the open market a year from now. Ray would help cover for their potential 2020 exits to some degree.
The Phillies’ rotation isn’t facing as much upheaval over the next year as the Astros’, though Philly could cut ties with Jake Arrieta next winter. For now, Arrieta and ace Aaron Nola are entrenched in the Phils’ rotation going into 2019, with Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff currently looking like the favorites to battle it out for the remaining three spots. Pivetta, Velasquez and Eflin had difficulty preventing runs in 2018, however, while Eickhoff totaled a mere 5 1/3 innings in the bigs on account of serious injury issues.