Giants acquire Robbie Ray; Haniger, DeSclafani to Seattle

January 6th, 2024

The Giants and Mariners have been frequent trade partners in recent years, but no move has been quite as significant as the one they announced on Friday.

In what could be a precursor to more offseason activity, San Francisco acquired 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner from Seattle for outfielder Mitch Haniger and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. The Giants are also sending $6 million to the Mariners to make the deal cash neutral for both sides in 2024.

Giants get: LHP Robbie Ray
Mariners get: OF Mitch Haniger, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, cash

Ray is expected to be out until the second half of 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last May. He made only one start last year, but he recorded a 3.71 ERA over 189 innings for the Mariners in 2022. The 32-year-old is owed $73 million over the final three years of his contract, though he’ll have the ability to opt out following the 2024 season.

With Ray and Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) slated to miss the beginning of the season, the Giants still are likely to pursue more starting pitching this winter, with lefties Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Shōta Imanaga among their potential free-agent targets.

“It’s probably an area we continue to look to add, by either free agency or trade,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said during a Zoom call with reporters. “Robbie is obviously a big piece for us and fills what we saw as the ideal of a No. 2 starter who had a different style than Logan Webb but complemented him well. Robbie is a power lefty who misses a lot of bats. Before this injury, he actually had a really good track record of durability. 

“Hopefully, Alex Cobb is going to be on a timetable that allows him to return sooner than the second half, but with Robbie, I think that’s a realistic time frame. … Any pitching additions we make from this point on will sort of have to sync up with knowing that we’ll have those three guys in the top of the rotation in the second half.”

Haniger, 33, spent five years in Seattle before leaving to sign a three-year, $43.5 million deal with his hometown Giants last offseason. But he hit only .209 with six homers and 28 RBIs over 61 games in an injury-marred 2023 campaign. Like Ray, he’ll have the ability to opt out at the end of the 2024 season.

Haniger’s departure will help clear the Giants’ logjam in the outfield, where they’re already projected to have Jung Hoo Lee, Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Luis Matos, Tyler Fitzgerald, Heliot Ramos and Wade Meckler vying for at-bats.

DeSclafani, 33, logged a career-best 3.17 ERA over 31 starts for the Giants in 2021, but he struggled to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons, recording a 5.16 ERA over a combined 24 appearances (23 starts) while dealing with right ankle and right forearm issues. He is owed $12 million in the final year of the three-year, $36 million deal he signed with San Francisco in November 2021.

Without DeSclafani, the Giants are expected to turn to several young starters to help fill in for Cobb and Ray early in the season, including Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn, Tristan Beck and Kai-Wei Teng. They’ll also have a veteran option in Ross Stripling, who will be back in the rotation mix after opting into the final year of the two-year, $25 million deal he signed last offseason.

“The flexibility to create opportunities for our younger players, the flexibility to potentially make other moves to backfill in the spots that we traded away, that’s definitely part of the thinking here,” Zaidi said. “I think for us, Robbie and the long-term vision of him being a tandem at the top of our rotation with Logan Webb was the No. 1 motivation. But some of the flexibility it creates for opportunities internally and a little bit more maneuverability in terms of other free-agent moves or trade acquisitions we’re looking at is certainly part of it.”