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Report: Phillies are “very interested” in Robbie Ray

Ray would provide a southpaw option to the Phillies rotation if acquired via trade (Photo: Hayden Schiff)

According to a report by The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo, the Phillies, along with the Houston Astros, are “very interested” in Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed starting pitcher Robbie Ray.

Ray is a left-handed starting pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was originally the 12th round pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.

In December 2013, the Nationals sent Ray as part of a three-player package to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for veteran pitcher Doug Fister. Almost exactly a year later he went to Arizona as part of a three-team deal between the Tigers, Dbacks, and New York Yankees.

The 27-year-old southpaw is coming off a 2018 season in which he pitched to a 3.93 ERA with a stellar 12.0 K/9, produced a 1.1 bWAR, and recorded a 4.31 FIP mark.

Ray went 6-2 across 24 starts over which he allowed just 97 hits in 123.2 innings pitched while striking out 165 batters. As strong as those numbers look, they were a step down from a 2017 season during which he went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA, 12.1 K/9 (218 strikeouts), a 3.72 FIP, and a 4.9 bWAR mark. Ray was also named to his first NL All-Star team that season and finished seventh in the National League Cy Young Award voting.

On the down-side, Ray missed all of May and June during this past season due to an oblique injury. However, once he returned, Ray did not miss a start the rest of the season. Like many lefties, he has experienced command and control issues. Ray averaged 5.1 BB/9 last season and has walked four batter per every nine innings pitched over his career.

The Phillies and other clubs would find Ray’s contract situation desirable. He is arbitration eligible, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting Ray to earn about $6.1 million through arbitration in 2019. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

The Diamondbacks clearly understand they have a prized possession. The Arizona Republic‘s Nick Piecoro has reported the following regarding the possibility of Arizona dealing the pitcher:

“…a source said the Diamondbacks are holding a “really high bar” in what they would need back in order to move him.”

Arizona general manager Mike Hazen might be seeking one of the Phillies youngish big-league bats. Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, or Nick Williams could be in such a deal, which may have to include at least one member of the Phillies available young pitching assets.

This isn’t the first starting pitcher whom the Phillies have been rumored to be interested in acquiring. Corey Kluber has also appeared on the Phillies radar in recent days, with a high asking price set by the Cleveland Indians in any trade for their veteran ace.

The Phillies have not had much luck with pitching in the free agent market this off-season. Starters J.A. Happ and Patrick Corbin chose to sign with other organizations, reportedly due to the Phillies unwillingness to extend contract offers at a length acceptable by the pitchers.

The Phillies have been connected recently to free agent starter Dallas Keuchel. But once again, the length of a contract offer appears to be a sticking point.

On the position player front, the Phillies are still in on both superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Recent reports have said that Harper (per Fancred‘s Jon Heyman on WFAN Radio) and Machado (per New York Post‘s Joel Sherman) may have expressed some disinterest in Philadelphia. This could force the Phillies to look at other options in their attempt to field a more competitive team in 2019.

Trade discussions with Arizona for Ray are in line with what NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury wrote back in early November. At that time, Salisbury said that Ray would be one of the names to watch when it came to potential Phillies targets. He further stated that Ray’s name was kicked around by club officials last off-season, so their interest in nothing new.

The Diamondbacks are still receiving inquiries about Ray despite USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale’s report which said that Arizona had no interest in making the young pitcher available for trade. This despite having previously traded superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals, the type of move that would seem to signal an Arizona rebuild.

Phillies GM Matt Klentak has not made any notable moves since signing free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen back in early December. Depending on the price it would take in exchange, trading for Ray could be his next big move.




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