Rays have control in Archer discussions

by Gary Shelton on July 31, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Should the Rays deal Archer today?/CARMEN MANDATO

Should the Rays deal Archer today?/CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

He has not been the ace he was advetised as being. On the other hand, he is still one of the highest cards in the deck.

So what do you do with Chris Archer on trading day?

Do you keep him, or do you tell him his chances are up?

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As the Tampa Bay Rays approach deadline day, this is their biggest question. Oh, there are still the Wilson Ramos discussions. We'll see if he's healthy enough for a new team. There is Adeiny Hechavarria, a slick-fielding shortstop with a bloated contract. There are Sergio Romo and Matt Duffy. Heck, some even list Blake Snell among the spare parts.

But for now, the question is Archer, a pitcher whose potential has never matched his production.

Rarely has there been an athlete in Tampa Bay with arguments of both sides on his tenure. You can make a compelling argument that the Rays still need Archer, and you can make an argument that his stay in Tampa Bay has been a disappointment. Heck, you can argue both are true.

Start with this: The Rays are chief among the teams that really, really need a starting pitcher. Archer is an innings eater (three straight seasons of 200-plus innings). His stuff is unchallenged, and he has three straight season of 200-plus innings. There are reasons to keep him.

But Archer doesn't win a lot and he costs a great deal (on the Rays' scale). Oh, I know. For a pitcher, wins are a wobbly statistic at best, subject to run support and his defense and his bullpen. Eventually, however, winning games does matter. And Archer has a 54-68 record.

So why shouldn't the Rays at least see what they can get in return while the getting is good. Another .500 season wouldn't increase his return, would it? Think about it. The best record Archer has ever had was in 2014 when he was 9-7. His ERA hasn't been under 4.00 since 2015.

If Archer is an ace, isn't it time to pick another card?

This is life for a Rays' fan. Oh, everyone trades anyone these days. But the Rays are less comfortable with rising contracts than most teams. Still, being stuck with Archer isn't the worst thing that could happen. This is no time to panic.

Look, I like Archer. He's bright, and he cares about kids, and he's a good guy in the dugout. But if you think of players as assets for a team, it might be time to move him.

Granted, you feel for Archer. It's a job with fame and fortune, but when it comes to being traded, it isn't up to the player. He's a leaf in the wind, and the team decides which direction it blows.

So understand the human part of Archer, who doesn't know which town he might wake up in tomorrow. There will be some fans, too, who always hoped for a better tomorrow out of Archer who will be disappointed. But if you buy that the Rays are building toward a better day, a trade might make sense.

Supposedly, the Padres are interested. And the Yankees.  And the Dodgers. And the Braves and Brewers and A's and even the Pirates. Archer is still just 29, and he doesn't become a free agent until 2022. So there is reason for other teams to be interested, too.

Are they interested enough? One internet headline asked this Monday: Why should the Yankees pay a big price for Archer? Well, because it's the going rate, silly. If you want him, you have to give up something. If you don't want him, that's okay.

For years, you've heard it. The Rays want a ton for their players. That doesn't make sense, because the Rays have made a lot of trades where they didn't get a ton in return. Remember the David Price trade? No one picked anyone's pocket.

So if the Yankees don't want to give their finest prospects, that's cool. But why should the Rays let Archer go for less than what they can get?

In other words, the Rays should want a lot for Archer. And if they don't get it, well, there will be other trade offers in the months to come. Tampa should be willing to trade Archer, but they should be willing to keep him, too.

They're in control.

Sometimes, that's more than you can say for Archer.

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