While the Philadelphia Phillies will square off with Clayton Kershaw this evening, they reportedly are keeping tabs on another prominent left-hander in the National League West.
And, at least as far as this report is concerned, it isn’t San Francisco Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Phillies have shown “recent interest” in Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray. They aren’t alone in their interest, however, with Morosi saying that the Houston Astros have also checked in on Ray, who he says may be more coveted than Bumgarner.
This isn’t the first time that the Phillies have been connected to Ray, who won’t turn 28 until October. At the outset of last offseason, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia said that the Phillies have had interest in Ray dating back to the winter of 2017.
In 2019, Ray is 7-6 across 20 starts with a 3.81 ERA, 4.04 FIP and 1.8 fWAR. While the Phillies need a No. 2 starter behind Aaron Nola – and Ray probably profiles as a No. 3 starter on a World Series contender – it would be foolish to assume the Phillies don’t have other needs in their rotation. If Ray turned out to be a legitimate left-handed option in the middle of the Phillies rotation, that would obviously improve a team that appears to have only one stable starting pitcher currently.
At the same time, it’s a seller’s market and the Diamondbacks will enter Monday night a game-and-a-half back of the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Ray may not be an ace, but when you factor in that he can’t become a free-agent until after 2020, the cost to acquire him on the trade market will likely be a lot higher than that of a typical No. 3 starter.
Given the Phillies financial wherewithal – and limited prospect capital – Ray’s teammate, RHP Zack Greinke, has been connected to the Phillies in a speculative sense.
Greinke, 35, just made his sixth career All-Star team and is 10-4 with a 2.95 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 3.2 fWAR in 2019. He’s still a front-line arm, but is owed $32 million in each of the next two seasons and $62.5 million deferred between 2022 and 2026. Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reported last offseason that Greinke can also block a deal to the Phillies as part of his 15-team no-trade clause, so that would further complicate a potential deal. Bob Nightengale of USA Today did report in late May that the Phillies scouted Greinke, although they appeared to be much more serious contenders at that time.
In any event, it appears that the Phillies, who are 48-45, continue to prepare for the scenario that they make a major trade before the July 31 trade deadline. The club also reportedly scouted Toronto Blue Jays All-Star RHP Marcus Stroman Sunday.
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