The Chris Archer Illusion: A Pathetic Mariners Trade Attempt
Last week, we asked people for some suggestions in a series for potential Mariners trade. One of our most asked about pitchers was Chris Archer. So… I guess we will try to find a trade package for the Ray’s Ace.
The harsh reality is that the Mariners cannot afford Chris Archer. The Tampa Bay Rays undoubtedly have multiple partners lined up, most of whom could easily outbid the Mariners. Archer has already been linked to the Twins, who farm system is infinitely better than Seattle’s.
There is no doubt that Archer could help the Mariners. His profile is that of a really good #2 with ace potential. The 29-year-old has thrown 194 innings or more each of the past 4 seasons, including 200+ in each of the past 3 seasons.
Archer has a unique blend of inducing ground balls (45% career rate) and missing bats, boasting a 10.42 K/9 or better the past 3 seasons. Archer has a career 3.46 FIP and a 16.2 fWAR in his last 4 seasons.
On top of all of this, Archer still has 4 years of club control remaining, at an insanely valuable $33.7 million owed. In short, Archer is one of the best bargains in baseball.
So now that we have established just how good Archer is, do we even really need to continue our charade of affordability? Probably not, but we shall solider on, if for no other reason, trade talks are insanely fun.
When looking at comps for an Archer deal, Sonny Gray makes for an easy comparison. For Gray, the Oakland A’s got a Top 100 prospect (Jorge Mateo), and MLB ready starting outfielder (Dustin Fowler) and a high-upside flame throwing starter (Jim Kaprellian).
Using this deal as a guide for us, it is clear that any offer the Mariners might hurl at the Ray’s must include Kyle Lewis. Lewis, the consensus best prospect in the Mariners system, is still working his way back from a serious knee injury he suffered in 2016. This no doubt affects his trade value, and might scare a few teams away from the uber-talented outfielder. Any how, say goodbye to Kyle Lewis.
Next, the A’s got a young, MLB ready outfielder. Fortunately for the Mariners, they do have 2 guys who fit this mold. Unfortunately, they happen to be the Mariners Opening Day corner tandem, Mitch Haniger and Ben Gamel.
Trading either would create a hole in the Mariners lineup. While most would be willing to move Gamel, it is almost a certainty that the Rays would demand Haniger. So, already the Mariners are giving up their top prospect, the best young MLB bat they have, and still, the Ray’s would need more.
Now we reach the area where the Mariners simply do not matchup with the Rays. Young, controllable, and cheap starting pitching. Sam Carlson is the best pitching prospect the Mariners have. He is still 3+ years away from sniffing the big leagues. Next is Max Povse, who has the upside of an ok #4 type. Again, probably not what the Rays want.
Perhaps, instead of a starter, the Mariners can tempt the Rays with one of their many bullpen arms. However, this arm would have to be special and cheap, and there is but 1 name that fits that mold. Hello Edwin Diaz.
So in order for the Mariners to reach the Sonny Gray offer, it would cost them their starting RF with 5 years of control, there only Top 100 prospect, and their established closer with 4 years of club control remaining. Yikes.
Now, of course this isn’t the only avenue for the Mariners to try to walk down. Perhaps, the Mariners could take on some of the Ray’s more expensive contracts and lessen the load. Or maybe, Tampa really loves Mike Zunino.
However, no matter the scenario, it is difficult to write a script where Chris Archer is calling Seattle home anytime soon. Sorry guys. The Mariners do need to add an impact arm, but Jake Odorizzi is a more realistic option.
Next: The Mariners and Rays, Natural Trade Partners?
Jerry Dipoto seems unwilling or unable to spend big money on the free agent pitchers available. If Seattle is going to add during Spring Training, it will most likely have to be via trade. I suspect Jerry has one last trick up his sleeve before Opening Day. However, I don’t see anyway that trick is Chris Archer.