Phillies rumors: Team keeping eye on Diamondbacks starters
The Phillies are interested in just about every potentially available pitcher this year, which includes two potentially available Diamondbacks starters.
It’s no secret that the Phillies are seeking pitching help at the trade deadline. They’ve at least checked in on pretty much every available pitcher this month, most recently heading out to Detroit to scout Matthew Boyd and Shane Greene. However, don’t think the team is locked in on those two pitchers.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Monday afternoon that the Phillies are “scouting and keeping close tabs” on Diamondbacks starters Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke. Ray and Greinke were both linked to the team earlier this year and have been often.
Greinke and Ray would both be worthwhile acquisitions, but it’s no guarantee that they will even be available. They have no shot of catching the Dodgers in the NL West race but are still reasonably close to the second wild card at 2.5 games back. Arizona could conceivably hold onto both to make a playoff push and then trade them during the offseason.
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For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Diamondbacks do decide to deal one of Greinke or Ray. Greinke is the clear-cut ace of the staff with a 2.93 ERA, 0.948 WHIP, and 7.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21 starts this year. However, his age (35), salary ($34.5 million this year and $35 million the next two years), and 15-team no-trade clause (which includes the Phillies) make it much harder to get a deal done.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported last Friday that the Diamondbacks would eat up to $10 million per year of Greinke’s remaining salary to receive a better prospect return. This may not be necessary for a team with luxury tax space and financial capital like the Phillies.
Working out a deal for Ray would be less complicated, although it would net Philadelphia a less impactful pitcher. Ray has a 3.92 ERA, 4.25 fielding-independent pitching, 1.299 WHIP, and league-leading 57 walks in 21 starts this year. He is faring about as well as last year, which was a considerable drop off compared to his All-Star campaign in 2017.
Ray will be much cheaper than Greinke this year and next year but will become a free agent for the 2021 season. Greinke would garner more in a trade if Arizona eats some of that money, but it remains to be seen if that will even be an option before the offseason.