In the middle of an offensive explosion, these starting pitchers could all provide a boost to top contenders at the trade deadline.
It’s no secret that Major League Baseball is in the middle of a historic offensive season. Home-run records will be shattered, the Minnesota Twins have a ridiculous .503 team slugging percentage and the Baltimore Orioles are on pace to give up over 300 bombs. The league is only paying lip service to deny the juiced-ball theories that have been floating around the past few years and it’s harder to evaluate hitters. On the flip side, the league’s offensive environment has magnified and increased the value of competent — let alone dominant — starting pitching.
The trade deadline is always a time for contenders to hunt for starting pitching to stabilize their rotation. The biggest deals typically involve starters because one upgrade to a rotation can make or break a playoff run. This year will be no different, especially with very little incentive to give up top prospects for bats.
With so many teams still involved in playoff races in both leagues, the trade market for starting pitchers is still nebulous and the whole trade deadline could come down to how well certain teams play over the next three days. Teams will evaluate their chances after this weekend, which could open up a few more starters for trade. Noah Syndergaard remains the biggest name to watch, and the New York Mets will continue to play their cards close to the vest. In addition to Syndergaard, these are the other top pitchers who could all be on the move by this time next Wednesday.
8. Robbie Ray
Dealing away All-Star Paul Goldschmidt before the start of the season and losing Patrick Corbin should have signaled the beginning of a rebuild for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Losing their two All-Stars haven’t hurt Arizona as much as expected, and they are currently hovering above .500 and in striking distance of the National League’s second Wild Card. Hanging around contention has put the Diamondbacks in an interesting spot, and their farm system has drastically improved to the point where they may not need to be focused on stripping their MLB roster of assets in a rebuilding effort.
Arizona has two of the best trade chips when it comes to starters in Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke, but they may have a hard time moving them (for different reasons). Greinke is one of the most expensive arms in the league and still under contract for two more seasons. Ray is a year away from free agency, but the Diamondbacks may be able to afford to re-sign him.
Ray, a 27-year-old lefty, is drawing plenty of trade interest and warrants a top-50 prospect. He is 9-6 this year with a 3.95 ERA and is striking out 11.9 per nine. Ray is 43-40 with a 3.86 ERA over the last five seasons and has struck out 11.2 per nine. His biggest issue is command, as he walks over four per nine.