clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MLB trade rumors: No, the Tigers are not trading for Chris Archer

Sorry, Charlie. It's not happening.

Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

In the frenzy of speculation and rumors that occur every July, most buying teams' fanbases obsess over a select few players their favorite club might be acquiring. This year, the most sought-after assets are starting pitchers. In the recent past, this has also been the case, with many buying clubs looking for rotation reinforcements. In 2014, David Price and Jon Lester, both No. 1 starters, were dealt. In 2015, Price was dealt again, along with fellow aces Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels.

This year, however, the buyers are more numerous than ever and the sellers are running out of things to sell. There aren't any aces available, and the buyers are scraping the bottom of the barrel to get upgrades. Naturally, the few top arms potentially available -- we're using the word "potentially" very loosely here -- are getting a lot of attention. One of those players is Chris Archer, the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Some fans have hoped that the Detroit Tigers might acquire Archer, but they're overlooking one key fact: it's not happening. Here's why.

The Rays Don't Need to Sell Archer

There is no doubt that the Rays are sellers at this year's deadline. They are sitting at last place in the AL East, playing .400 ball with a record of 38-57. They are 18 1/2 games out of first place, and are now just percentage points ahead (behind?) the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in the American League. As sellers, they are well-stocked, as MLB Daily Dish pointed out.

The Rays are in prime position at this year’s deadline, as sellers with four controllable starting pitchers (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore and Drew Smyly) in a seller’s market. Tampa Bay is not in a rush to make deals, but is listening and could strike on an advantageous market for sellers.

The Rays can't trade everyone, and Archer has proven to be the best of this group of cost-controlled starters. Yes, they could trade him, but having a young ace is already a nice building block for the future. Odorizzi alone could bring a decent haul of prospects. Smyly and Moore could also fetch some good young talent. There is really no seller's motivation to ship off their best pitcher.

The Rays Would be Selling Low

Archer has, without a doubt, one of the best fastball-slider combos in baseball. He is a fantastic starter, and an ace on the right day. He has prospect pedigree, track record, and one of the best pitcher whisperers in the game in pitching coach Jim Hickey to help him along. There is only one issue: he is having the worst year of his career.

Old school statistics say that Archer shouldn't even be on a major league roster. He has compiled a 5-13 record with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts this season. The more advanced statistics tell a nicer story; he has posted an excellent 27.3 percent strikeout rate with a tolerable walk rate, but also a not-so-great 4.14 FIP. He has allowed 8.8 hits per nine innings and truly awful career highs in home runs, home runs per nine innings, and walks per nine innings. The home run rate is particularly troubling, as it is approaching Anibal Sanchez levels. Yuck.

Mind you, the phrase "selling low" is relative. While Archer may not be pitching well this year, the combination of a shallow market for starters and his track record would command a veritable army of prospects. However, if that is the case, imagine the number and quality of young talent that would be gotten in return for Archer performing at career norms. That alone would be enough to discourage the Rays from trading him, and is mostly the reason they won't.

Archer is on a Fantastic Contract

Although the Rays are sellers this year, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them turn things around relatively quickly. Pitching coach Jim Hickey makes diamonds from proverbial dust, and there is some good pitching talent waiting in the wings. Logan Forsythe has emerged as a fantastic second baseman, Kevin Kiermaier provides rock-solid defense and has a passable bat, and the only reason Evan Longoria isn't still being gushed over is because he has the misfortune of being in the same division as Josh Donaldson.

If the Rays are in contention again, they are going to want some cost controlled talent, and Archer is that. With a contract that extends through the 2019 season, he is locked up on a very team-friendly deal. Even as good as he is, Archer is owed a "mere" $4.25 million average annual value, and in a small-market team like Tampa, there are few assets more valuable than cheap talent.

Even if the Rays were to trade the highly talented starter, think about his price tag. Any trade of such a player in such a shallow market would inspire a bidding war that the Tigers would struggle to keep afloat in, let alone offer more than their competitors. A package that would be big enough to capture the attention of Ray's GM Matthew Silverman would probably have to include names like Daniel Norris, 2016 first round pick Matt Manning, and yes, even Michael Fulmer. In other words: ouch.

So, yeah. It's not happening.