Is the Rays’ Chris Archer Worth a Gamble for Padres?

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The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly discussed internally if they should move ace Chris Archer. The San Diego Padres are in need of a top-end starter, but is Archer worth the gamble for the Friars since he will come at a huge cost?

The San Diego Padres surely have a bright future.

Even the most negative of Padre fans must see that the team has built an excellent farm system. We are only barely beginning to see the prospect fruit arrive at the major league level. Franchy Cordero, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, and Franmil Reyes are only the beginning. Reyes isn’t even viewed as top-30 prospect and is not ranked as one according to That tells you about the ridiculous depth in the organization.

A.J. Preller has done well to transform the Padres’ system from ashes. Sure, the team had a #1 farm system before Preller, but there was no depth nor a plan for long-term success. The Padres surely have an idea what they are doing now, as they have set up waves of talent within the system that should crest soon at Petco Park.

The minor league system is growing and there is a reason to be content if you are a Padres fan. There looks to be a change in the philosophy of the team, and with that, success should follow closely. And not just one or two successful runs at a World Series title, but years and years of competitive baseball with hoisting that trophy as the ultimate goal.

The Padres have several young arms on the way, but they lack a true “ace”. In all reality there are probably only a handful of pitchers whom you would currently refer to as an ace in the game of baseball. Chris Archer is close to being considered an ace, but he has yet to take his game to the ultimate level.

The 29-year-old is 13 games under .500 in his overall career record, with a 54-67 total. A win-lose record might not be the best method to judge worth, especially since he pitched for some really horrible Rays’ teams. The two-time All-Star (2015/2017) has amassed a career ERA of 3.67 and a career WHIP of 1.223 in 1,043 innings pitched.

The former 5th round pick in 2006 from the Cleveland Indians is currently shelved with an abdominal injury. He was 3-4 with a 4.24 ERA this year prior to the injury, which occurred in early June. He threw a bullpen session this week and still reported some soreness. There should be an update on his status this week. Archer threw less than a week after originally being placed on the DL. The injury does not appear too serious and should not affect his overall worth on the trade market.

Value is exactly what Archer brings to the table, as he has thrown 200-plus innings for three straight years. Four years ago, he threw 194.2 innings in his first season in the majors and he has proven to be quite durable. The Padres could surely use a pitcher to mentor young players and eat up innings at the top of the rotation.

Probably the best thing about Archer is his team-friendly contract. He is due a total of $6.41 million for this season, which is unheard of for a pitcher of his ilk. In total for the next three seasons, Chris Archer is due somewhere around $27.75 million. A top-of-the-order pitcher for around $9 million dollars is a steal in this day and age of the game. That is why the thought process indicates the Tampa Bay Rays will try to maximize his worth now. They will, at the very least, seriously explore the idea internally.

This report from Ken Rosenthal indicates that the Rays are possibly thinking about it.

The Padres will kick the tires on Archer, if they have not already. The two teams match up as the Padres can provide current major league talent for Archer, as well as young prospects that have decent upside. The key to this is how interested the Padres are in the right-handed pitcher.

A.J. Preller is doing his homework; that you can be assured of. Dealing for a pitcher at this age is risky. Major League pitchers have the potential to fall apart all of a sudden. Time and time again through out the history of the game, starting pitchers hit the wall after a certain amount of innings. Chris Archer is not a big guy. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs; not optimal size for a pitcher to go deep into their careers without physical issues. There are some red flags, but in any evaluation of a player, you can find faults and issues.

You cannot ignore the fact that Chris Archer has an excellent fastball/slider combination. His hard-tilting slider is rated as one of the best pitches in all of major league baseball. He still has tremendous upside and could take his game to a new level by getting away from the ultra-competitive AL East. Constantly facing teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays is a difficult thing. Factor in the lack of a DH in the NL, and Archer’s numbers could get even better with the Padres.

What it would take for Archer?

You are not going to like this, but in order to land the services of Chris Archer, the Padres are going to have to give up a top-5 prospect in their system to even begin negotiations. And it may even require a top-3 player to start the talks. Archer is signed to such a team-friendly deal that his price tag would be understandably high.

One scenario would be that the Padres would have to part with one of MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, or Michel Baez, plus a current major league-caliber player (Travis Jankowski, Cory Spangenberg-type) and a lower level prospect in the top-30 or on the cusp of it (Pedro Avila, Michael Gettys, Javy Guerra, David Bednar, etc). That would entice the Rays to start negotiations, but losing a top arm and a few other prospects could be damaging for the overall process of the Friars.

Another scenario would be if the Rays are looking for more advanced players that they can plug into their team now. Guys like Hunter Renfroe, Luis Perdomo, Eric Lauer, and Phil Maton could give the Rays some stability currently and not make the fan base feel like the team is turning their back on them. The Padres could also sweeten the deal with multiple lesser prospects in this proposed offer. There are a lot of names that could be plugged in here as the Padres have plenty of youth.

There is no debate that these two teams match up well in a potential trade. Will the Padres explore this Chris Archer situation, or have they already done the homework and came to a decision? The next month or so of this team and the moves that are made (or not made) will most definitely shape the future of the San Diego Padres. Will Chris Archer be a part of that future?

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres

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This article has 21 Comments

  1. If we are going to trade one of our top prospects I want a true ace in return. Not someone who was an ace three years ago. Anyone wants one of our top 5 prospects, I want a Chris Sale type return. I have no problem holding on to our best prospects unless we get top current and future value for them.

  2. The prospects you named are the 2nd wave. Margot. Hedges, Renfroe, Maton, Perdomo, Jankowski. Those are the first wave.

  3. Archer isn’t worth much more than a mid-level prospect at this point and I don’t think the Rays would go for that. Hope the Padres don’t overpay.

  4. The ship has sailed on Archer being an ace. This is the 3rd year in a row for him with an ERA over 4. That really makes more of a 4th pitcher, very far from an ace. It’s a cardinal error for a rebuilding club to block young players with potential with a so what player. Yes he’s affordable and with options can be had through 2021. Problem is he’s just not all that good.
    As for other points made in the article:
    1) please stop citing W-L records, it is a team stat and worthless when evaluating a pitcher.
    2) stop with the crap about our great farm system! You are drinking the kool aid. A farm system can only be fairly judged in retrospect, after we see what it produces. Since 2014 (when Preller was hired) the farm system has produced 1 proven, above average major leaguer, Trea Turner. That might well change, but it hasn’t yet. A great farm system produces stars (see Boston, Betts or NYY, Judge, Severino).
    3) that we need a mentor to eat innings. We already have Ross and Richard for that. Archer has never been cited for his leadership, so don’t assume he would offer that.
    4) that Archer would cost a top 3 prospect. In Tampa’s dreams. A top 3 prospect is someone like a Gleyber Torres or Ronald Acuna or Juan Soto. Unless you’re nuts there’s no way you part with a player like that, or who has that projection, for an underachiever like Archer. For SD that means parting with Tatis or Urias. If one believes that we’re talking about the future SS and 2B why on earth would you trade that prospect for 3 years of 29 year old, over 4.00 ERA pitcher?

    1. 1- didn’t I state win-loss records is not optimal to judge a pitcher’s worth? I mean it is right there in the article. Sorry for going “old school” on you.
      2- read something! EVERY major baseball publication has the team with the #1 farm system. The majority (90-95 percent) haven’t arrived at the major league level and are teenagers. So how can you judge them (for better or for worst)? Obviously you are new to this franchise as they have never had this depth in their system. Stop drinking the Yankees/Red Sox koolaide with your assessment of their farms. The Padres depth is incredible.
      3- now you know Archer personally and who is in the clubhouse? SMH… Ross is a free agent at the end of the year and Richard has one more year left. The team needs veterans in the rotation for 2019 and beyond.
      4- Top 3 in our system. Yes. The cost for a pitcher making $9 million dollars a year is not cheap. That is the price tag. Don’t like it… move on. Don’t shoot me for being the messenger.

      Obviously you don’t like Archer and that is fine. We are all entitled to our opinion. But don’t try to discredit what I wrote because you don’t agree with it. Thank you for the reading our work.

      1. Didn’t mean anything personal James, sorry if it came off that way.
        1) still think it’s not valuable to cite won-loss records.
        2) didn’t I say one can’t judge a farm system until time passes? I mean it’s right there in my comment. And there’s no kool aid to be drunk, those teams have produced legitimate stars in recent years. Betts, Bogarts, Judge, Severino, Sanchez, etc. And the Padres have not. Those points really can’t be disputed.
        3) all I wrote is that Archer has not had leadership attached to his rep, if you think he has, fine go ahead and cite the source for that. I would love it to be true.
        4) it’s not that I’m not a fan of Archer, it’s just that he hasn’t been good over the last 3 season, there’s difference. For a team in the Padres situation, it’s very risky to trade high prospects for a player like Archer because you risk building in mediocrity when you should be aiming higher. Put it this way, who will help the team reach it’s goal of a prolonged period of excellence (2020-2025 let’s say), high ceiling prospects like Urias or Tatis, or a middling pitcher who is already 29 and with an ERA over 4.00, and who only be around for 2020-2021?
        Your article raised the question of whether it would make sense to trade for Archer. Fair enough, I was just trying to make my case that the answer should be no.

  5. Hey Kevin,

    At this point we don’t know which of our strong prospects will work out. It’s rolling the dice to trade away any of them. We could trade away Cal only to find he was the true MLB ace. I like your idea of on the cheap, though Ray fans will not agree. I think sometimes we forget that the front office has already shelled out some good dinero for our prospects.

  6. Definitely would not want to give up anyone in our top 5 for Archer with where he is in his career. Frankly, not sure of the top 10. At this point where he is 29 and the overall numbers are not eye-popping, does he give you more than Tyson Ross? I don’t think he is a true #1 on a championship team like a Verlander is.

  7. Though the scenarios are intriguing, I think the cost would ultimately be too high. If the Padres were a contender then it should be a consideration. But they are not yet there.

  8. No, no, and No! Any of our top 3 pitchers have the potential to be better then Archer! I love the makeup and fielding of our current shortstop Galvis, but we gave up a pitcher who very well could have been one of our core 5. Archer has too many miles already on his arm to chance any trade that would include even a top 10 player in our farm system. Maybe he would be worth a lower level prospect and one or more of our current players.
    Also, I really don’t get the reasoning to give up on a high prospect to get a controllable player due to him having a reasonable contract. That high prospect is almost always controllable for a longer time at a far cheaper cost.
    It might be different if we had a strong chance for the playoffs.
    Nuff said.

  9. I wouldn’t give up a top 5 prospect for Archer. It’s too early, and we have too many holes in our current lineup. Plus, we have a lot of quality pitching coming up next year potentially (Allen, Quantrill, Paddack, Nix). We should be sellers, not buyers — see what we can get for Hand, Ross, Renfroe, Reyes, etc. Trust the process!

    1. Agree. Archer seems to be trending downward. I would.lobe to trade for him but I’d prefer to trade from depth than top prospects.

      Spang/asuaje for Archer would be ideal for us

    2. Roddy besides an Ace I want to hear the other holes you see.. We trade quantrill to your point we still have Allen and Paddack to add to Archer next season. With that said I wouldn’t give up anybody else in our Top 10 besides Cal. But due to archers injury and ERA we might be able to get it him for cheap.

    3. The process is to win now unless you think Fowler, Seidler, Preller, and Green were all lying when they said the rebuild had been accelerated by the trade for Galvis and the signings of Hosmer, Ross and the extension of Hand.

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