Although Chris Archer rumors have been akin to the tales of the white whale off the coast of Nantucket, eventually you might find that beast. Even as the Rays have resisted serious overtures for Archer over the years – including from the Cubs – and Archer himself has been resigned to sticking in Tampa Bay for yet another season, I think this latest from Ken Rosenthal deserves some attention.
Sources: #Brewers, casting wide net for SP, have had recent contact with #Rays on Archer. Deal would appear unlikely. TB might not view Santana or Phillips as enough of a centerpiece for a controllable ace. MIL might not want to cut deeper into its farm system after Yelich trade.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 1, 2018
Since the Brewers simultaneously traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain last week, it’s been a foregone conclusion that they would next turn their attention to the starting rotation, which is in need of at least one more quality arm if Milwaukee wants to take full advantage of the window they just threw open. How the Brewers would do it, of course, has been the subject of a great deal of rumor and debate, with the most recent of it focused on free agent Yu Darvish, whom they might be aggressively pursuing … or whom they might not be able to afford, depending on your source.
A trade from their suddenly-burgeoning outfield depth, plus a still-very-healthy prospect cache, makes at least as much sense to me, though. Moreover, I tend to think a trade – yes, even one for Archer – is at least as plausible as the idea of the Brewers laying out $120+ million on a starting pitcher in free agency.
Archer, 29, is controlled for four more years on one of the most infamously team-friendly contracts in the game (he gets $6.4 million this year, $7.67 million next year, and then there are $9 million and $11 million team options for the next two years). Every team would see themselves upgraded by adding Archer and would benefit from the flexibility that his contract provides, but a small-market, in-a-window club like the Brewers might benefit most of all.
As Rosenthal says, it’d be extremely bold for the Brewers to double dip into their farm system for two huge trades in a single offseason, but adding guys like Archer and Christian Yelich – prime-ish age guys on long-term, affordable contracts – is at least as perfect for the Brewers as holding out hope that a group of prospects would come up and meaningfully contribute over that same stretch of time.
That is all to say, Archer makes a ton of sense for the Brewers, and it would make me rather nervous to see the Brewers able to add him.
They’ve got the pieces to do it, though it’s quite right that Domingo Santana and/or Brett Phillips are *definitely* not enough to be the center piece of a trade. Pretty much any and every player in their system – including Josh Hader, Corbin Burnes, Keston Hiura, and Brandon Woodruff – would have to be under consideration and on the table. It would be a pillaging trade, without question, and there’s always risk when you consolidate a ton of talent into a single pitcher who is about to turn 30. But, as I said, adding Archer to the Brewers’ already extant big league core? That’s a very competitive-looking team over the next few years, and not an outlandishly expensive one, either.
As I said in the open, a Chris Archer trade has come to feel like that obvious thing that never actually happens. But the Rays do seem to eventually trade everyone before they lose too much value, and at some point, Archer’s gotta be next. I just hope it isn’t soon, and to the Brewers.
To the extent the Rays more seriously considered moving Archer, mind you, it’s not as if the Brewers would be the only team seriously involved in the talks (heck, the Cubs could even make a run at Archer again). In fact, it’d kinda be like when the Marlins started talking to teams about Christian Yel … oh. Wait. Never mind.