The Rays have reportedly made all of their pitchers available this off-season, in the right deal, as a way to improve other areas of the roster. The Rays are believed to be exploring options to add offense to a team that underachieved this past season.
The Rays have a surplus of pitching, a rarity in today’s game. Offensively, the Rays have struggled with consistency for years. And with the cost of pitching, both in free agency and on the trade market, being so incredibly high, Matt Silverman and the front office believe the Rays can fill at least a couple of holes by trading one of the team’s controllable starting pitchers.
The Cubs and Rays have been talking off and on for at least 18 months. The two front offices have admitted publicly there is a match. To this point, the teams have not been able to finalize a deal.
The Cubs were connected heavily to Jake Odorizzi and Jake McGee last off-season and linked to Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, Erasmo Ramirez, Brad Boxberger and Alex Cobb. The Rays traded McGee to the Rockies in January.
The Cubs and Rays had conversations leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline this past summer. Those talks reportedly involved Matt Moore. The Rays moved Moore to the Giants for three players headlined by Matt Duffy.
According to Jim Bowden, the Cubs and Rays have picked up the conversations this off-season as was expected. The Cubs and Rays have discussed Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Chris Archer.
Bowden reported during his show on MLB Network Radio last week that the Cubs have talked to the Rays about their pitchers and those discussions have included Chris Archer.
Archer turned 28 at the end of September (Sept. 26) and is under team control through the 2021 season. Archer is coming off a down-year as a whole, but a better than solid second half of the season.
In 33 starts, Archer went 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 3.81 FIP. Archer allowed 100 runs, 90 earned, on 183 hits with 67 walks and 233 strikeouts in 201 1/3 innings. Archer served up a career-high 30 home runs, close to the 31 home runs he gave up combined in 2014 (12) and 2015 (19).
After the break, Archer was 5-7 in 14 starts with a 3.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. And in August, Archer was 3-3 in six starts with a 3.03 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Archer allowed 36 runs, 33 earned, on 73 hits with 19 walks and 103 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings in the second half.
Archer’s home-road splits are rather concerning. At the Trop, Archer was 3-10 in 16 starts with a 2.65 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. On the road, Archer was 6-9 in 17 starts with a 5.44 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Archer gave up 102 hits, 20 home runs, in 99 1/3 innings outside of Tampa.
As for his contract status, Archer has five years of control left on the incredibly team friendly extension he signed in April 2014. Archer’s contract calls for a $4.75 million salary in 2017, $6.25 million in 2018 and $7.5 million in 2019. Archer has two club options for 2020 and 2021. Archer’s 2020 club option is for $9 million and includes a $1.75 million buyout and his 2021 club option is for $11 million with a $250,000 buyout.
According to Bowden, a package from the Cubs to the Rays for Archer would start with Ian Happ and Jorge Soler. Happ and Soler were part of the discussions as two players that could be included in a deal for Archer.
The Rays would obviously want a lot more than Happ and Soler for Archer. Bowden did not mention any other names or indicate which pitching prospects have been discussed that the Cubs would have to include in a deal for Archer. The Rays would not trade a pitcher, especially one the caliber of Archer, without receiving pitching in back in the deal.
If the Rays trade Archer this off-season the team that acquires him will have paid a huge price. Archer is an elite, proven big league pitcher that has the ability to be one of the true aces in the game. Add in his contract and five years of team control, and Chris Archer will be very expensive.