Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray is one of the top rotation targets on this summer’s trade market. The Arizona organization will have to decide whether the time is right to cash in on the southpaw, who’s earning $6.05MM in 2019 and can be controlled via arbitration for one more season beyond the present.
The Astros and Phillies are two of the teams showing “recent interest” in Ray, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. It’s unsurprising to see this particular connection; both of those organizations is in obvious need of starting pitching and already pursued Ray over the offseason. No doubt other organizations are also taking a look at Ray in anticipation of the Snakes entertaining offers.
At this point, it’s unclear just how the Arizona organization will behave at the deadline. The club itself does not fully know, GM Mike Hazen has indicated. Final decisions will surely come down to details that aren’t yet known: where exactly are the Snakes in the Wild Card standings? And what package of young talent can they achieve for Ray and others?
The ’Stros and Phils are surely interested in gaining an understanding not just of what kind of pieces the D-Backs would want, but how inclined they are to pursue a deal in earnest. While the Houston organization will surely be in on rental assets, it has reasons to prefer controllable arms. It makes much more sense for the Philadelphia club to focus on the latter class, given its recent struggles.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how negotiations progress on Ray. He’s a particular target for strikeout-loving teams — so long as they can live with his walk issues and a few more long balls than might be preferred. Since the start of his breakout 2017 campaign, Ray has thrown nearly four hundred innings of 3.47 ERA ball with 12.0 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 along with 1.3 dingers per nine. Though the best run of results came at the front end of that time period, by most measures Ray has been much the same pitcher throughout. There were some health hiccups last year, but he has stayed on the mound this season. All things considered, Ray is quite an appealing target for the right contender.
The situation is made all the more interesting by the D-Backs’ own circumstances. Both Hazen and CEO Derrick Hall have made clear the organization isn’t looking for anything close to a full rebuild. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t be interested in highly talented but far-off prospects, but the Arizona org is not going to punt on the present entirely. That stance promises to impact the sort of deal structures that are pursued. The Snakes acquired talented players at or near the majors — Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, and Andy Young — in last winter’s Paul Goldschmidt deal, which could provide something of a model for a Ray swap.