Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray involved in trade speculation as deadline nears

PHOENIX – The MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching, as it tends to do, and with it comes an annual question: buy or sell?

That question is harder to answer this trade season than in years past. For one, nearly every team in baseball has at least an outside shot at the playoffs. That’s especially true in the National League, where even the second-to-last place Pittsburgh Pirates are only nine games out of a wildcard spot. Seven NL teams are clustered within 3.5 games of each other.

In a league full of contenders, how many clubs will actually be prepared to offload talent by July 31? We’ll know soon enough.

The second obstacle facing prospective trade partners is the lack of a waiver period, that additional month of buffer that’s seen the shuffling of some of the game’s best players: Justin Verlander, Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, to name a few. Major League Baseball did away with the August 31 waiver deadline for 2019 and the foreseeable future, leaving Wednesday as the hard-and-fast deadline for player movement.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are among the teams most under the microscope. The team weren’t expected to compete this season after selling off six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt and letting A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin, former All-Stars in their own right, depart in free agency. But they, too, are in the thick of things, with a 52-51 record and a 58-45 Pythagorean record, a ratio formulated by a team’s number of runs scored versus runs allowed.

General Manager Mike Hazen tipped his hand, however, earlier this week in a conversation with “The Athletic’s” Zach Buchanan when he suggested the World Series chances for a .500 team were slim.

If Arizona isn’t a buyer, it would stand to reason the team would look to continue the rebuild. The most tantalizing contract to part with would be that of Zack Greinke’s, who is slated to be paid $35 million in 2020 and 2021, his age-37 season. For obvious reasons, that number will likely be too steep for the majority of MLB teams. But the 16-year veteran and former Cy Young winner has enjoyed perhaps his best stretch with the Diamondbacks thus far this season, compiling a 2.93 ERA along with 123 strikeouts and just 17 walks through 135 innings.

Mike Petriello of MLB.com predicted on Wednesday that Greinke would be in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform by the deadline. Greinke, 35, would immediately anchor the rotation of the win-now but underperforming Phillies.

The D-Backs player garnering the most interest across the league, however, appears to be Robbie Ray. Ray, 27, is once again on pace for a 200-plus strikeout campaign and is under team control via arbitration next season.

Jon Morosi, also a reporter at MLB.com, tweeted Friday morning that at least three teams — the Astros, Brewers and Yankees — have checked in on Ray in recent days. Morosi also reported veteran outfielder Jarrod Dyson could easily be moved if the team decides to sell.

Connect with us on Facebook.