|D-backs' Ray will be center of attention vs. Rangers|
Several teams will be interested observers when Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray starts against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday.
The Diamondbacks are amid the National League wild-card race and may or may not end up being sellers before the July 31 trade deadline. If they decide to deal, Ray (7-6, 3.81 ERA) is one of their most intriguing trade prospects.
The 27-year-old Ray will take on Rangers righty Jesse Chavez (3-4, 3.84) on Wednesday, having allowed a total of two runs in his past two starts, spanning 12 1/3 innings. Several teams are reportedly interested in Ray, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves.
"I think we're going to stay engaged with every team," Arizona general manager Mike Hazen told MLB.com over the weekend.
"We're going to keep talking. We're going to kick around ideas. I still think we have challenges in front of us long-term that we need to address. Our roster as it's currently situated, there's a lot of guys that have one-plus years of control. I think we need to figure out what the roster is going to look like after that point."
Ray is on a $6.050 million contract this season and is third-year arbitration eligible for 2020 before hitting free agency.
Ray pitched against the Rangers on April 10 in Phoenix, allowing one run on two hits in five innings, getting a no-decision in a 5-2 loss. He struck out 10 and walked one.
Although he sometimes struggles with his command, his rate of 11.76 strikeouts per nine innings is among the best in the majors.
Ray is 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four career starts against Texas.
Arizona won the first game of the two-game set 9-2 on Tuesday night, beating Rangers ace Lance Lynn.
"That team is pretty gritty," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who saw plenty of the D-backs while serving as the Dodgers' third-base coach the past three seasons. "They just don't give in."
Chavez, mostly used as a reliever before late June, has started in his past four appearances, throwing at least five innings each time. He threw a scoreless inning of relief against the Diamondbacks earlier this season and has a 4.67 ERA in 17 1/3 career innings against Arizona.
The Rangers have lost nine of their past 13 games after reaching a season-high 10 games above .500, although they are also chasing a wild-card spot. It will help that Hunter Pence returned Tuesday night after missing 23 games because of a right groin strain.
Despite the injury, he earned his fourth career All-Star selection after hitting .294 with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 55 games before the break. He went 0-for-4 Tuesday but hit into some bad luck, including lining into an inning-ending double play with two runners on in the eighth.
Pence has a .389 career average in 18 at-bats vs. Ray. Shin-Soo Choo has two homers in seven at-bats.
The Rangers have an excess of outfielders and could also entertain deals before the deadline, including for the 36-year-old Pence, who is on a bargain one-year, $2 million contract.
"Hunter has been unbelievable on and off the field," general manager Jon Daniels said. "There is huge value in that. It's uncomfortable talking about anybody, but that's what we are assigned to do ... look at the big picture. Try to see what's good for the club now and in the future."
--Field Level Media