Seattle Mariners Trade a Day: Dare to Dream Big

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 02: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners during their game at Safeco Field on June 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 02: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners during their game at Safeco Field on June 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Over the better part of 2 months, we have brought you countless of trade candidates for the Mariners to consider. But today, it’s time to dream big. Today, its time to talk about Chris Archer.

Chris Archer has long since been a pipedream of sorts for Mariners fans. The 29-year-old has been a central topic amongst anybody who is looking for starting pitching. The problem for the Mariners is that they are trying to get somebody that everybody wants and their credit card is pretty much maxed out.

On the field, Archer would certainly qualify as an upgrade to the team’s rotation. Over the course of 6 1/2 years of pitching for the Rays, Archer is the owner of a 3.68 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, a 1.22 WHIP, a 9.7 K/9 rate and 2 All-Star appearances.

He has also been remarkably durable, averaging 33 starts a year from 2014-2017, good for 202 innings pitched average.

However, Archer just hasn’t quite been as effective since the start of 2016. He’s posted an ERA of 4 or over in 2016 and 2017. His HR/FB rate has been 12.7 % or higher the past 2 1/2 seasons. The groundball rate has dropped from 46%-47% to 43% in 2017 and 2018. The slider has gotten steadily less valuable since 2014.

However, Archer is still a valuable commodity. He is under contract until after next season and has 2 reasonable club options for 2020 and 2021. If activated, Archer will make just $30 million over the next 3.5 years.

Honestly, Archer is not an ace. However, he is a very good #2 starter. He misses bats, doesn’t issue absurd amounts of walks, and post consistently solid numbers throughout his entire career. Yet just because he’s not an ace, doesn’t mean he will be cheap.

The Mariners will have plenty of competition for Archer. The Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox all make a lot of sense. So do the Cubs. So to envision Seattle winning this auction, it’ll involve an aggressive offer.

The number of “high-ranked” prospects to get Archer would not be easy for some to swallow. Here is our proposal:

The Mariners are giving up 2 Top 5 prospects, a potential set up man, a utility man type, and a 26-year-old power-hitting righty. The Rays get two upside prospects, 2 MLB pieces, and a potential 2B of the future.

The Mariners also get Adeiny Hechavarria. In what amounts to a salary dump for the Rays, Seattle takes the remaining $3 million of Hechavarria. He’s not a bad player. Hechavarria plays a good SS and is a career .256/.292/.345 hitter. He has average speed but grades a solid baserunner too.

He is an upgrade over Andrew Romine and may ease the price a tad on Archer. In Kyle Lewis, the Rays get a potential middle of the order bat who’s timeline to the big leagues could accelerate exponentially.

Incidentally, the same could be said for Julio Rodriguez, who is crushing the Dominican Summer League, and could make his stateside debut in 2019. Rodriguez already shows an advanced approach for a 17-year-old. If this continues, Rodriguez could make his big league debut before he can legally drink.

Healy and Festa represent solid MLB contributors who may develop into more. Healy’s right-handed power is enticing, and the Mariners appear set to roll with Robinson Cano at first for the foreseeable future. Festa is already an MLB quality middle-reliever, who could be a strong setup man down the line.

Overall, it is unlikely that the Mariners can actually land Archer. But Jerry Dipoto and his team should aggressively pursue this idea. Archer is young”ish”, controllable, and a pretty damn good starter. He is exactly the type of player worth “emptying the farm” for.

Next: A Kansas City Two Step: Duffy and Merrifield

Archer makes the Mariners better in 2018. He will make them better in 2019. And potentially better in 2020 and 2021. It’s a no-brainer. Is it likely? Hell no. But now is not the time for cynicism. Now is the time to dream.