Robbie Ray comes to the D’backs in a three team trade. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Those Arizona Diamondbacks were at it again. In a Winter that I didn’t anticipate being too busy, the D’backs have made a third big transaction. The team traded Didi Gregorius to the Yankees and in return received left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray and Minor League infielder Domingo Leyba from the Tigers. Detroit received right-handed pitcher Shane Greene from New York. The early read from this writer is that the Snakes made a pretty good deal.
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Gregorius heads east with the unenviable task of succeeding Derek Jeter. It caps a curious two-year career in the organization that began with a similar three team trade that had Trevor Bauer go to the Indians. Gregorius became the starting shortstop in April 2013 and hit .252 in 404 plate appearances. He was beat out by Chris Owings for the starting job at short in Spring Training the following season. Gregorius was sent to Triple A Reno but returned to Arizona in early June, hitting .226 with a .290 on-base percentage in 299 plate appearances. The Yankees are getting a great glove with a questionable bat.
The D’backs were able to get Ray, 24-year old who is now with his third organization. He was the centerpiece for the Tigers in the deal that sent Doug Fister from Detroit to the Nationals last December. However, Tigers’ management must have really soured on Ray, dealing him a year after acquiring him. Control has always been an issue for Ray, as he walked 193 batters in 438 Minor League innings. He did strike out 418 men in that span. Ray went 1-6 with an 8.16 ERA in nine appearances (six starts) in Detroit in 2014.
Leyba was signed as a 17-year old free agent in 2013. He is a shortstop by trade, a small one at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds. He enjoyed an excellent first season in Single A ball splitting time in low-A Connecticut and mid-A West Michigan. He batted .323 with an on-base percentage of .360 in 278 plate appearances. Leyba hit a robust .397 in 116 plate appearances with West Michigan.
So why do I like this trade? The D’backs finally dealt from their position of strength. Gregorius is not their top player at the position, Owings is. In exchange for their second-best player at the position, Arizona obtained a young left-handed pitcher, an area that is not deep in the organization. Ray may not have the best numbers now but he was an organizational All-Star for the Nats in 2013 and has been considered a top prospect in the past. Leyba is essentially the replacement for Andrew Velazquez a nice prospect who was dealt for Jeremy Hellickson.
It seemed that the offer from the Yankees was Greene for Gregorius, straight-up. I like that Dave Stewart and company rejected that. Although Greene is more proven than Ray, both might end up being the same type of pitcher, with Ray having a little more upside. Plus, they get a 19-year old shortstop, who although a long way from the Majors, provides depth at a critical position. Though this hasn’t been a knockout offseason so far for the new regime, this trade like the two other moves before it are putting this organization in a better spot for both today and tomorrow.