We are a few days into our series profiling one potential trade fit for the Mariners every day between now and the July 31st trade deadline. Early on, we have focused on selling players. But what if Seattle decides to buy?
Now, I can hear you thinking “why would the Mariners buy? They are terrible.” But remember, the Mariners hope to be competitive by 2021. While it is ambitious, it won’t happen unless the team adds talent from outside the organization.
While that talent could be added via free agency and the draft, it is safe to assume that GM Jerry Dipoto would like to get some of that talent via trade. It is his player acquisition option of choice, and Dipoto has a pretty good track record at it.
But buying talent requires giving up prospects. While the Mariners have made significant strides in that area, they aren’t at the point where they can take a major risk by giving up multiple top prospects.
So how do you add this type of talent at a price that you can stomach? By buying low. Good players in a bad year on a bad team. Now such a player would need to have club control beyond 2019 and likely into 2021 as well. Those guys aren’t readily available. But perhaps one such player could be, Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Chris Archer.
Archer is no stranger to Mariners fans. For years many fantasized about how Seattle’s meager system could afford the controllable starter (it couldn’t). Even last season, while the team was spiraling out of contention, the calls still came for Dipoto to find a way to add Archer.
It wasn’t going to happen, but the Rays cashed in on a desperate team trying to sneak their way into the playoffs, the Pirates. For their trouble, the Rays took advantage of Pittsburgh, nabbing top prospects Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz.
Meadows and Glasnow have already helped the Rays and Pittsburgh crumbled down the stretch. But thankfully, Pirates fans would argue, Archer still had 3-years of control remaining and was due just $28 million in that time.
Well, the Pirates find themselves in last place in the NL Central and Archer has been a major disappointment this year as well. He missed some time on IL and in his 11 starts, he’s just been bad.
He has posted a 5.73 ERA, a 6.15 FIP, and a 4.76 xFIP. His walk rate is a staggering 4.53 BB/9 as is his 24.6% HR/FB rate. On the plus side of things, Archer still misses bats, averaging more than one strikeout per inning, and is just 30-years-old.
The fastball velo is down from 95 MPH in 2018 to 93.5 but the pitch scores are in line with his 2018 numbers. So the stuff isn’t much worse than it’s ever been, but the command is. If the Pirates are ready to sell, Archer could be shopped around.
Now there are a few questions that the Mariners would need to know before considering getting involved. First, do they think they can help Archer? Second, does adding Archer help us in 2020 and 2021? And finally, what is it going to cost.
Let’s assume the answer to those first two questions is yes. Now we come to cost. What is the asking price on Archer? Well, there is a zero percent chance they’ll recoup anywhere near the package they gave, which benefits the Mariners. Here is our proposal:
Now, the important part. Do I think the Pirates would take such a package? No. But do I think Seattle would part with the likes of Jarred Kelenic, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, Julio Rodriguez, or Logan Gilbert for Archer? No.
There are a few roadblocks to any deal between the two sides. His contract expires after the earliest possible year the Mariners plan to compete. The Pirates would be selling low on one of their better trade chips.
Overall, it is tough to envision a deal that is mutually beneficial for both sides. The deal could involve major league pieces or prospect swaps that make it possible, but ultimately unlikely. The time frame involved in an Archer trade is just too close a fit to part with your top end talent.
So while a deal is unlikely, it remains possible that the Pirates could shop Archer this summer and Dipoto wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least check in on the asking price. Finally landing Archer after all these years of dreaming of him would be fun. But, in the long run, Seattle would probably be better served looking elsewhere.