Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting pitcher Robbie Ray may be in a new home before the 2019 MLB trade deadline passes, as teams like the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros are rumored to be interested in him, according to Jon Heyman.
For a team that still currently sits in the Wild Card race, the Diamondbacks are in a tough position. Only three-and-a-half games back of the second Wild Card spot, the D-backs have the pieces to make a run, but how much would it hurt their long-term development?
Ever since the team lost center fielder A.J. Pollock to the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency, the odds of Arizona making a playoff appearance were low. Now with this team playing in a hotly-contested division that has the Dodgers running away with the divisional lead and the San Francisco Giants peaking right before the deadline, the National League West looks to be all over the map.
The Diamondbacks do hold a few of the better trade chips that have been circulating through the rumor mill, as both Ray and fellow starting pitcher Zach Greinke have been hearing their names floating about, as the league looks to make additions and improvements before the month of July ends.
Seeing as how two of the most dominant teams in the American League have interest in acquiring Ray, the D-backs should have an easy decision to make. Both the Astros and Yankees have some of the best farm systems in the entire league, so any deal would immediately ripen up what Arizona has in terms of prospects.
Ray has been a solid starter this season, as the 27-year-old southpaw has nine wins against six losses in 22 starts and 123 innings. His 3.95 ERA, while a bit on the high side, would bring instant stability to any rotation that he would join.
On track to surpass his innings totals and game appearances from his last two seasons, Ray has been a key cog in any of the Diamondback’s success in 2019 but he also has had a busier season, so his arm may require a bit of rest at some point down the stretch.
Concerning any prospects, a top-15 prospect would be at least the starting point for any deal to either the Astros or Yankees, which would not hurt them too badly. Someone like first baseman Seth Beer (#7 in the HOU system, ETA 2020) or pitcher Brandon Bielak (#11, 2020) from the Astros would be a good start, as would catcher Anthony Seigler (#6, 2022) or Michael King (#11, 2019) from the Yankees system.
Ray is a solid pitcher, but as the market gets a bit soiled down with no moves being made, some of the selling teams may decide to lower their estimations of their own players and cave a bit, accepting lower-than-originally offered deals just to get something moving. While no team wants to get cheated out of earning full potential in any deal, Arizona has a key piece in the trade market this season, and Ray’s value will be determined once the rumors of offered deals come out.
Both the Astros and Yankees could benefit from adding Ray to their roster, and his controllability beyond 2019 is key as well, having his final season of arbitration eligibility in 2020. That extra year should tack on some value as well, potentially bumping up the headlining prospect’s value to sit no lower than a team’s fifth-best prospect.
Ray would be a smart trade candidate for the Diamondbacks, as they could sell him with a full extra year of control to get more value out of any prospect return package. Needing to determine if they are competing or selling, Arizona should soon realize that their chances of winning a Wild Card berth are not very solid, thus showing them that selling is a much better avenue for them to explore.