As the market for Chris Archer builds, are the San Diego Padres a serious player?
Right on cue, with scouts from other teams in attendance, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer struck out a season-high 13 batters with no walks on Sunday against the Miami Marlins. If not for a bad second inning, where all four runs he allowed scored (three earned), it would have been an even better outing.
The trade market for Archer seems to be building, with the New York Yankees specifically mentioned in a report on Monday. Contending teams looking for a pitcher that can be more than a rental for the rest of the season should be lining up, and they seem to be. But Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has added the San Diego Padres as a team making a “big push” to acquire Archer.
The Padres are having another bad season, with a 42-61 record putting them 15.5 games back and in last place in the NL West entering Tuesday’s action. But they made a significant (foolish?) investment in first baseman Eric Hosmer last offseason (eight years, $144 million) as a sign of a desire to be competitive soon, and they have a top-notch farm system from which to deal.
Archer has three more years of team control left after this one, at less than $28 million in total, with options that have cheap buyouts in 2020 ($1.75 million buyout) and 2021 ($250,000 buyout). That will necessarily drive up Tampa Bay’s asking price, as the Rays surprisingly linger around .500 so far this season (51-49 going into Tuesday). Looking toward 2019, and beyond, Archer could be seen as a key piece to the next legitimately competitive Rays’ team.
The Padres have the high-level prospects to part with in a deal for Archer, and they wouldn’t be gutting their farm system. But Archer was blunt about wanting to pitch for a contender, as much as he has a say in the matter, and San Diego is clearly not there yet. Even with a lot of talent coming in the minor league pipeline, a competitive division makes playoff contention a sizeable hurdle for the Padres over at least the next couple years.
It’s hard to see the Padres as a legitimate suitor for Archer. But the Rays have to seek the best possible deal, not one that will send him to a contender and appease him. If an offer of two or three high-level prospects comes from San Diego, it will be hard to turn down.