Boston Red Sox potential trade target: Chris Archer

Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) looks on from the dugout during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) looks on from the dugout during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox are in a dealing mode and one way to balance the right/left arms of the rotation is inquiring about Chris Archer. Would a deal be likely?

The Boston Red Sox have a dilemma that is confronting they’re pitching staff – primarily the front end, or as it is affectionately known, the rotation. The problem is an abundance of left-handed pitchers and the gossip around the baseball campfire is you need more balance.

I could care less if Boston has five righties or lefties in the rotation as long as they represent quality. The same “balance” applies to the lineup were apoplectic reactions happen when the notice is too many right or left-handed hitters. Toronto did just fine with a righty-heavy lineup.

So where do you get a right-handed hurler? One is being mentioned as potentially on the market and that is Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer. The 28-year old should be in the prime of his career and is signed with a reasonably friendly contract through 2021.

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Archer captured the ever valuable loss title by leading the American League with 19, but the rest of his numbers are reasonably respectable for 2016. The BB/9 was 3.0 – not bad, but a bit room for improvement. Archer is a strikeout pitcher as reflected with a K/9 or 10.4. His ERA (4.02) and FIP (3.81) are fairly close, so both the traditional and metrics lineup for what to expect.

Archer relies on a fastball at a rate of 48.5% in 2016 and – if you watch him – a devastating slider for 40.6%. The remainder is a changeup. Archer also has some legitimate speed with a fastball smoking at 94.5 MPH. For 2016, Archer is credited with a WAR of 3.1.

Getting Archer would be a disappointment for the Red Sox in one area – they own him, and I do mean own. A career 1-11 record and 5.38 ERA. The highly competitive, intense and flamboyant  Archer has been the Red Sox pitching piñata. Some of his starts against Boston have been quite interesting with verbal exchanges and pitches that had a message of dust off. No doubt about Archer’s intensity.

The immediate downside of any deal is trading within the division and that is pure nonsense, as the Rays were already discussing Archer with the New York Yankees. The Rays are not going anywhere and have been reduced to the role of spoiler within the division and happen to be quite good at it.

Tampa is constantly shuffling players about as they increase in value or approach free agency. Nothing here, folks, as Tampa would make any deal with any team if it signals improvement or cost savings.

Tampa is not in the baseball dealing business for generously handing over talent to competitors for ten cents on the dollar return. Tampa would expect something besides a prospect that is sitting on the bench in Salem.

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Two possible names surface that may tempt the Rays GM Erik Neander and that of Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Neither would provide enough – so the deal would have to include a bit more, but let’s stay with the two lefties before adding topping to our baseball sundae.

Rodriguez was quite impressive when he finally was healthy in 2016. In 77 innings he posted 79 strikeouts and a 3.24 ERA. Pomeranz was a disappointment, at least at Fenway Park where he was mistreated by opposing lineups. Pomeranz is a free agent in 2019 so his team control is less than E-Rod, but his 2016 WAR of 3.0 is closer to Archer’s.

From a dealing POV, I would, as I am sure most Red Sox fans would concur, make Pomeranz the centerpiece. Either way, you would be looking to toss in a prospect(s) and that is where any potential deal may evaporate. I doubt you will see Dave Dombrowski willing to move any of the top half dozen or so farm hands. One player of interest could be Marco Hernandez, who will probably be in a long war with Josh Rutledge for the coveted bench role.

The Red Sox could also offer up some minor league promise that has suddenly stalled such as Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias, and Deven Marrero. That is why I certainly do not wear a GM hat, but based on DD’s trading history a deal could be worked out.

Will it happen?

The Rays reportedly want a significant bundle in return for Archer. That has not happened and I doubt any team is handing over several top prospects and a major league player for Archer.

Next: Red Sox trade Buchholz to Phillies

Never say never, but if I was setting the odds on the two rivals consummating a trade for Archer I would place it in the long-shot category. That, coupled with a Red Sox team that appears set and loaded for a possible 100 wins in 2017.

Sources: Fangraphs