Robbie Ray is becoming a popular trade target, and these five teams may be stepping over each other to get him.
During the offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to shift into rebuild mode. But entering Monday they’re in the thick of things, at 47-47 and 1.5 games back of the second NL Wild Card sot. So they could be a buyer with the trade deadline looming, they could be a seller or they could do a little of both depending on the situation around an individual player.
The on-field results of the next two weeks-plus stand to say it all for Arizona in regard to what way they go at the trade deadline. That it’s even a conversation right now goes down as one of the bigger surprises of the season.
But in comments to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic over this past weekend, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen reflected the flexibility (and uncertainty) of the team’s deadline plans.
We’re going to have to make a complicated decision. It just doesn’t appear that it’s going to be an easily defined decision …
I still think we have challenges in front of us long-term that we need to address. There’s a lot of guys that have one-plus years of control. I think we need to figure out what the roster is going to look like after that point.
Speaking of one-plus years of team control, there’s starter Robbie Ray. He has a 3.81 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 rate over 20 starts (111 innings). Walks have continued to be an issue (4.5 BB/9, a league-high 56 in raw total thus far), but he does have three or fewer walks in six of his last eight starts while going at least six innings in seven of those outings.
With a hat tip to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports, here are Ray’s ranks among 97 pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings since 2016.
Strikeout rate: 30.6 percent (third highest)
Walk rate: 11.0 percent (third highest)
Home run rate: 1.3 HR/9 (24th highest)
Only Max Scherzer and Chris Sale have struck out a larger percentage of batters over the last three-and-a-half seasons. The walk rate is the primary issue, with a home run rate that isn’t ideal.
Ray has surfaced as a potential trade target for contending teams, with reports surfacing that add to the list of those with interest. He’s making a shade over $6 million this year, and he’ll be in line for a nice raise in his final year of arbitration.
The Diamondbacks may need a proverbial “offer they can’t refuse” to move Ray. But these five teams should be ready to make a strong push for the left-hander.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are pretty clearly in the market for pitching, with recent rumored interest in Noah Syndergaard and a report they’re in talks to get Will Smith.
In terms of the starting rotation, the looming return of Gio Gonzalez will help Milwaukee. But his joining Jhoulys Chacin, Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson won’t strike fear in opponents down the stretch and surely into the playoffs if they get there.
The Brewers have to be (and seem to be) motivated to add some name-brand pitching, or they’ll risk fading from a tight race in the NL Central and the National League as a whole. Ray is not that kind of widely-known pitcher, and it’s possible they simply get outbid, but the Brewers have to be considering a call to Arizona.