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Why D-backs’ Ray is linked to Yankees before MLB trade deadline

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray sits in the dugout during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, July 12, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

As of the middle of July, there’s no explicit evidence that the New York Yankees are ready and willing to trade for Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray.

Yet MLB analysts, reporters and writers continue to link New York to the D-backs’ left-hander.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first suggested the Yankees as a potential trade partner for Arizona on July 3.

The Yankees “historically have liked Ray,” Rosenthal wrote. Even if they and other teams are scared off by his inefficient starting performances throughout his career, he’s viewed as a strong bullpen option because of his strikeout rate that’s been above 30% during the last three seasons.

Ray has gone 7-6 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP this season, but he’s averaged just less than 5.2 innings pitched in his 20 starts in 2019.

Ray, who makes $6.1 million this year, has one more summer of arbitration, making him more than a half-season rental if he is traded. His potential trade candidacy will depend on the D-backs’ decision to buy or sell as the July 31 trade deadline looms, but what happens to other players on the market also matters.

Starting pitchers like the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, the Indians’ Trevor Bauer and the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman are also linked to the team in pinstripes, according to The New York Post.

Still, the possibility of Ray remains because of what’s being interpreted as potential mutual interest coming from Arizona.

The Post’s Dan Martin reported Friday that D-backs special assistant to the GM Tim Wilken has been scouting the Yankees’ Single-A squad, the Tampa Tarpons.

Both Martin and ESPN’s Coley Harvey see that as a sign that Ray could be a target. Writes Harvey:

With reports the Arizona Diamondbacks recently attended games at the Yankees’ high-A affiliate, New York may be setting its price for what it will give up in exchange for a starting pitcher like Robbie Ray: high-valued prospects who still need time to get MLB-ready. In other words, not Clint Frazier.

Much has to play out for Arizona to move Ray. A lot of it will have to do with whether the D-backs pile on wins or losses in the next week or so.

The Phillies and Astros could also have a say in this, as they have interest in the left-hander as well, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. When it comes to Ray and the Yankees, the rest of the market will strongly dictate how New York acts.

For the Diamondbacks, is chasing prospects coming out of High-A worth losing their second-best starting pitcher? As general manager Mike Hazen and his staff attempt to rebuild without putting dynamite to the foundation, does Ray become a piece more necessary to retain in the short- or long-term if they can scrounge up a trade of a more complicated, valuable asset like ace Zack Greinke?

Only time will tell.

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