Mariners deal LHP Ray to Giants in 1st of 2 moves

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Jeff Passan, ESPNJan 5, 2024, 03:36 PM ET


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Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
The San Francisco Giants acquired 2021 Cy Young winner Robbie Ray from the Mariners for outfielder Mitch Haniger and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, a swap of veterans that was the first of two deals Friday for Seattle.

The Mariners also acquired outfielder Luke Raley from the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder José Caballero.

Ray, 32, is owed $73 million over the final three seasons of his contract and is coming off Tommy John surgery. He is expected to return sometime after the All-Star break. His contract contains an opt-out after the 2024 season, when he is scheduled to be paid $23 million.

Haniger, 33, spent five seasons with the Mariners before signing a three-year, $43.5 million free agent deal with the Giants last winter. He is due $17 million this season, after which he has an opt-out, and $15.5 million in 2025.

DeSclafani, 33, is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million deal and is owed $12 million in 2024.

To even out the 2024 salaries, San Francisco will send $6 million to Seattle, which could slot Haniger into a corner-outfield or designated hitter role. Ray and Haniger each will receive $1 million assignment bonuses for being traded.

After finishing 88-74 and missing the playoffs by one game, the Mariners have refashioned their roster, trading third baseman Eugenio Suarez and left fielder Jarred Kelenic while losing outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to free agency. Seattle signed catcher/DH Mitch Garver to a two-year, $24 million deal to back up Cal Raleigh and add pop to a lineup in need of it beyond Raleigh, center fielder Julio Rodriguez and shortstop J.P. Crawford.

While the Giants missed on free agent targets Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, both of whom went to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, moving Haniger opens an outfield/DH slot. The Giants’ big move of the offseason was a six-year, $113 million deal for center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, and outfielders Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski, Luis Matos, Austin Slater and Blake Sabol — who’s also a catcher — remain on the roster.

Ray signed a five-year, $115 million deal with Seattle in 2022 after winning the American League Cy Young with the Toronto Blue Jays. In his first season with the Mariners, he put up a 3.71 ERA over 189 innings, striking out 212 and walking 62. He made one start last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon in his left arm.

Once he returns, he will join a rotation with ace Logan Webb, right-hander Alex Cobb, right-hander Ross Stripling and either a young starter — lefty Kyle Harrison or righty Keaton Winn — or a potential free agent signing.

Raley, 29, broke out last year while getting his first regular playing time in the major leagues. In 406 plate appearances, he hit .249/.333/.490 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs. While he’s among the more strikeout-prone hitters in the majors — his 31.5% strikeout rate was the 13th highest among 212 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances in 2023 — his left-handed power stroke should play in a corner-outfield/DH group that includes Haniger, Dominic Canzone and Sam Haggerty.

Haniger hit .263/.337/.480 in his time with the Mariners, who acquired him and infielder Jean Segura in a 2016 trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for second baseman Ketel Marte and right-hander Taijuan Walker. In his one year with the Giants, Haniger hit .209/.266/.365 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 61 games.

DeSclafani re-signed with San Francisco after a standout 2021 season but has struggled to stay healthy over the past two years, during which he has posted a 5.16 ERA over 118⅔ innings. He will provide depth for Seattle’s standout rotation that includes right-handers Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryan Woo and Bryce Miller.

The Rays have targeted infield help with franchise shortstop Wander Franco being investigated in his native Dominican Republic for an alleged relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Caballero, 27, hit .221/.343/.320 but posted 2.4 wins above replacement as a rookie last season thanks to his well-above-average defense at second base and 26 stolen bases in 29 tries. He is expected to compete for the starting shortstop job with Taylor Walls, who is coming off hip surgery, rookie Osleivis Basabe and perhaps top prospect Junior Caminero, who can play short but profiles more as a third baseman.


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