Why Merrill Kelly is the D-backs’ Best Trade Chip

Back in February, if you’d been told that the D-backs had dropped five straight games and were 8.5 games out of first place with a week until the trade deadline, the natural thought would be whether the team would trade left-hander Robbie Ray. The 28-year-old is a free agent at season’s end, and demand for starting pitching is always considerable during deadline season.

Jump ahead to August, however, and Ray has unexpectedly struggled through the worst showing of his career. He’s a contributing factor to the D-backs’ season-long struggles and their recent slide. And with nearly as many walks issued (25) as innings pitched (27), he’s not going to drum up much of a competitive market. Granted, his struggles make it extraordinarily difficult for the Diamondbacks to contemplate a qualifying offer this winter — a QO had previously looked likely — so perhaps they’ll still include some cash to help balance out his $9.43MM salary ($3.4MM prorated) and move him for what they can get.

But even without a productive Ray helping to anchor their pitching staff, the Diamondbacks find themselves in possession of one of the game’s more interesting trade assets in the rotation: right-hander Merrill Kelly.

Kelly is a relatively anonymous righty — one with whom many casual fans may not be familiar at…

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