GIANTS ACQUIRE ROBBIE RAY, BRAVES ACQUIRE CHRIS SALE AS LEFTIES DEALT

2024-01-09 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Giants Acquire Robbie Ray, Braves Acquire Chris Sale

Official MLB X Account | Nathan Seebeck/USA Today Sports

Robbie Ray - there’s a name that Blue Jays fans don’t dare forget. A spectacular 2021 season, culminating in a Cy Young Award - Toronto’s first Cy Young winner since Roy Halladay in 2003. He sparkled, he shined, and he signed…with Seattle.
A five-year, $115 million contract saw him head west to the Mariners with mixed results. Just two years into his massive deal, he’s now dealt to San Francisco in exchange for Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani. He posted a solid 2022 with the M’s, but nowhere near his excellence the year prior - in 2023, Ray barely pitched at all due to injury.
In Ray, the Giants are hoping that a change of scenery will spark his 2021 success for him to bolster San Fran’s rotation depth behind ace Logan Webb. At a glance, it’s a solid five - Webb, Cobb, Ray, Stripling, and youngster Kyle Harrison - in some order. That said, Stripling struggled in his first season with the Giants. Alex Cobb is aging, with expected regression. And Kyle Harrison, one of their top prospects, has shown command issues at times.
On the flip side, Mitch Haniger is back for his second go-around with the M’s - the outfielder played with Seattle from 2017-2022. When healthy, he can mash - in 2021 Haniger had a 39 HR/100 RBI season - though in the last two seasons he’s played in just 118 games. Haniger will slot back into the middle of the order for the M’s in 2024, and be a staple in the outfield alongside Julio Rodriguez and one of Canzone/Haggerty/Raley.
DeSclafani, who has one year left on his current deal, will slide into the Mariners’ staff as a serviceable arm. Whether that’s in the rotation or not remains to be seen, as youngsters Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo sit alongside Luis Castillo as a projectable starting five. In 2021, DeSclafani put up great numbers in his first season with San Francisco - he went 13-7 with a 3.17 ERA over 167 ⅔ IP, tossing two shutouts. His H/9 was at a career low (7.6) as well as his FIP (3.62) and ERA+ (130). Since then, it’s gone downhill a bit. But Seattle doesn’t need godly numbers, they need innings and stability.
Heading over to the NL East, the most active team this offseason, at least in quantity, has been Alex Anthopoulos’ Atlanta Braves. Signing, trading, waiving, releasing, trading again - it’s been quite busy for the 2023 NL East winners. In keeping with character, an out-of-the-blue deal that saw Chris Sale (and cash) get sent to Atlanta in exchange for rookie INF Vaughn Grissom shocked many.
Now in his mid-thirties and years removed from the All-Star caliber lefty many remember throughout much of the 2010’s, Sale’s inconsistency and health became a talking point in Boston - over the last three years, he’s only pitched in 31 games. Sale hasn’t had a full season since 2019, which even then was a drastic dropoff from the seven consecutive All-Star seasons prior.
Sale will likely slot in, if healthy, in the middle-back end of Atlanta’s rotation, behind the prominent arms that are Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Charlie Morton. Assuming Sale is penciled in at SP4, Bryce Elder will - in all likelihood - round out the rotation, leaving Reynaldo Lopez and AJ Smith-Shawver as swing-men.
Heading back to Boston is Vaughn Grissom, a 23-year old middle infielder who hit very well. Though his MLB time is limited - 64 games over two seasons, hitting .287 - Grissom has smashed everywhere he’s gone in the minors. A combined .320/.407/.477 slashline since joining the organization (outside the Majors), he commands great bat-to-ball skills and will fit nicely in a rebuilding, err, rerouting Red Sox squad. With Riley, Arcia, and Albies in Atlanta, it would have been tough to see consistent playing time - something he will receive in Boston.
Additionally, Atlanta has restructured Sale’s contract; he is now under team control through the 2025 season, with a club option for 2026. Sale will make $17 million in ‘24, $22 million in ‘25, and potentially $18 million in ‘26 via the option.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins

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