Rumors

Diamondbacks reportedly have high asking price on possible Phillies target Robbie Ray



Robbie Ray is reportedly of interest to the Phillies. (Hayden Schiff)

One way or another, the Philadelphia Phillies quest to add a left-handed starting pitcher increasingly looks like it won’t be a cheap one.

Matt Klentak and the Phillies ultimately bowed out of the Patrick Corbin sweepstakes last week, unwilling to match the sixth year that the Washington Nationals ultimately guaranteed the two-time All-Star. One possible backup plan to Corbin is his former Arizona Diamondbacks teammate, Robbie Ray. But despite Corbin exiting in free-agency and the Diamondbacks trading six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt, the club doesn’t appear to be aggressively shopping Ray, per Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic:

Though he is coming off a down season, he finished the year strong, and a source said the Diamondbacks are holding a “really high bar” in what they would need back in order to move him.

Even in the midst of what can only be described as a rebuild, it’s not surprising that the Diamondbacks don’t feel as though they have to move Ray, who Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia said has been of interest to the Phillies dating back to last offseason. Ray, who turned 27 in October, can’t be a free-agent until after the 2020 season. The same reasons that the Phillies and other teams are interested in Ray are the reasons why Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen won’t feel as though he has to move Ray this offseason, something he probably felt with Goldschmidt and also likely does with Zack Greinke.

Ray’s value also isn’t as high as it was a year ago. An oblique injury limited him to just 24 starts in 2018, where he posted a 3.93 ERA and 4.31 FIP across 123.1 innings. The Diamondbacks just saw with Corbin how drastically a pitcher can change their value over the course of a calendar year. So any offer attempting to buy low on Ray probably won’t pique the Diamondbacks interest, especially given that prior to 2018 Ray had put together three productive seasons:

Year ERA FIP fWAR Innings Pitched
2015 3.52 3.53 2.2 127.2
2016 4.90 3.76 3.1 174.1
2017 2.80 3.72 3.2 162.0

At his season-ending press conference, Phillies president Andy MacPhail spoke of a desire for the Phillies starting rotation to become more left-handed. This past July, Ranger Suarez snapped a 267-game streak that the Phillies had accrued without using a left-handed starter. It’s been evident since the start of the offseason that the Phillies hope to add an external left-handed pitcher to their starting rotation for the 2019 season.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports says that the Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds are the three “prime teams” in on 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. The Phillies, per MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi, have also inquired on former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, though it’s unclear how likely the Giants are to actually trade the 29-year-old. Former Phillie J.A. Happ could prove to be the most attainable left-handed option, though a variety of contenders, including the New York Yankees, also have interest in the 36-year-old.

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