When the FanSided Offseason Simulation officially launched, trade talk started slow – but it didn’t take long to heat up for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As “simulated” GM Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks, we were eager to make contact with as many teams as possible in the Offseason Simulation. Gauging the value of Arizona’s trade chips was easy, but the mandate from Arizona ownership is murky: compete, but lower payroll in the process. Trade discussions launched from unsteady footing such as this dual-purpose plan do not portend a pleasant future in Arizona. Still, we carry on – as many mid-markets do- in our attempt to build a (fake) winner in the desert. Next on the block: Robbie Ray.
With the David Peralta trade in the books, there weren’t many tradeable salaries left on Arizona’s roster – discounting icon Paul Goldschmidt and high-priced ace Zack Greinke. We fished around for interest in Greinke, but with our fake free agency not yet in full swing, teams with money still had their eyes on catching the market’s biggest fish, including former Dback Patrick Corbin.
Our original intention was to hold onto Robbie Ray, essentially, no matter what. The Dbacks left-hander was one of the players I did not anticipate moving unless something significant changed, along with Paul Goldschmidt, Ketel Marte, Alex Avila, Archie Bradley and Nick Ahmed (for differing reasons). Well, the (fake) acquisition of Carlos Carrasco changed some things.
Namely, starting pitching was now an area of depth with Zack Greinke, Carlos Carrasco, Robbie Ray and Zack Godley all under contract. Further, Clay Buchholz was likely an easy re-sign, and he could be paired with the injured Taijuan Walker to take up that fifth spot in the rotation. Beyond those starting five (or six), top prospects Taylor Widener and Jon Duplanier are close enough to the majors to serve as promising, if uncertain depth.
What hadn’t changed with the Carrasco trade is the need to shed payroll. Even before free agency opened, we were floating around the $140MM mark, which is probably about $10MM higher than Diamondbacks ownership prefers.
When the bell for free agency finally did ring, top lefties Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel went off the board pretty quickly – to the White Sox and Nationals, respectively – which only skyrocketing the interest in Ray.
Being as we’d already been approached with interest in the 26-year-old Ray, it wasn’t difficult to push that leverage that existing interest around the league to see what might shake loose. A few offers had come in from Milwaukee and Washington, but nothing to move the needle. That’s when Pittsburgh came calling with an offer headlined by a top-50 prospect.