In the frenzy of speculation and rumors that occurs every July, most buying teams' fanbases obsess over a select few players their favorite club might be aquiring. This year, the most sought-after assets are starting pitchers. In the recent past, that has been the case, with many buying clubs looking for rotation renforcements. In 2014, David Price and Jon Lester, both #1 starters, were dealt. In 2015, David Price was dealt again, along with fellow aces Jhonny Cueto and Cole Hamels. This year, however, the buyers are more numerous than ever and the sellers are running out of things to sell, and the buyers are scraping the bottom of the barrel to get upgrades.
Naturally, as a result of that, anyone of quality that is thought of as gettable is focused in on. One of those players is Chris Archer, the Ray's ace. Tigers fans who are hoping that their team might aquire Archer are overlooking one key fact: he's not getting traded.
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. That might be managable to come back from ina an average division, 2015 Rangers-style, but they are competing with three baseball powerhouses, Bostn, Baltimore, and Toronto, for the division title, eliminating that possiblity. As sellers, however, they are well-stocked, as pointed out by SB Nation's MLB Daily Dish.
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.
With three other cost-controlled starters that could be traded instead of Archer, the Rays have no real need to trade Archer, as Odorizzi alone could bring a decent haul of prospects. Smyly and Moore also could 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 is, without a doubt, one of the best practitioners of the fastball-slider duo currently playing. He is a fantasic starter, an ace. He has prospect pedigree, track record, and one of the best pitcher whisperers in the game to help him along. There is only one issue: he is having the worst year of his career.
The more pedestrian statistics (most of which the majority of people reading this will spit on) say that Archer shouldn'tr even be on a major league roster. He has pitched to the tune of a 5-13 record with a 4.60 ERA. The more advanced statistics tell a kinder story, showing he has posted an excellent 10.7 K/9 and 2.88 K/BB, but also a not-so-great 4.14 FIP and 8.8 H/9 and truly awful career highs in HR, HR/9, and BB/9. The HR/9 is particularly terrifying. Archer's is 1.5. Anibal Sanchez's is 1.7. Yuck.
Mind you, the phrase "selling low" is relative. While Archer may not be doing 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 a Chris Archer prefoming 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, baseball is extremely flukey, and (baseball being baseball) it is actually a possibility they may be atop the division within a few years. Jim Hickey makes diamonds from proverbial dust, there is some good talent in the minors, 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 is the second-best third baseman in the division 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 AAV, and in a small-market team like Tampa Bay, 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 pull ahead it's 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, Beau Burrows, Christin Stewart, JaCoby Jones, Jairo Labourt, and more. In other words: ouch.
So, while there will be big moves this deadline, and Tampa Bay will be losing some starting pitching, it is extremely unlikely that Archer gets moved.
Even if he does, the Tigers better steer clear.