Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that “teams are calling” about Diamondbacks southpaw Robbie Ray, with the Astros and Phillies at the top of that list. Ray was previously thought to be nearly untouchable this offseason, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic previously suggested that the team had a “really high bar” on any package deal involving the lefty, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said several teams had been told he was unavailable. It’s not yet clear if much has changed or whether a frontrunner has emerged in any trade talks.
Ray, 27, got off to a disappointing start with the D-backs in 2018. After receiving his first All-Star nomination and pitching to some career-high marks the year before, he struggled through a difficult stretch in April and had just started to get a handle on his mechanics before he was hit with an oblique injury. He didn’t appear on another major league mound until the end of June, and went 7-11 in 18 starts with a 3.66 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 11.2 SO/9 through 96 innings in the second half of the season.
Injuries and mechanical issues aside, Ray’s best days aren’t far behind him, and his talent — coupled with two more years of team control — should fetch a hefty return in any trade offer the Diamondbacks see fit to accept. Of course, whether or not they do so hinges on the prospect of a full-scale rebuild, something they still seem reluctant to enter into after dealing All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals earlier this month.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.
The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.
Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.
Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.
The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.
Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.
Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.