As the San Diego Padres suffer through yet another year of mediocrity, reports of the team’s willingness to acquire Major League assets are beginning to surface.
According to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Padres are “making a big push” for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer. Although Rosenthal follows this claim up by saying a trade doesn’t seem likely, it is worth noting that the Padres have interest in a proven major league player who is under control long enough to help the team once their competitive window opens. With that being said, should the Padres pull the trigger on the soon-to-be 30 year-old.
Archer was once seen as a future ace after his first full season in the bigs back in 2013. A 3.22 ERA and 1.3 fWAR accompanied a league-average 19.2 percent strikeout rate to combine for a very solid rookie campaign. He would only improve from that point, posting strikeouts percentages at an above average rate while keeping his walks in check.
Despite solid peripheral numbers Archer has had some trouble limiting runs as of late, posting an ERA over four in 2016 and 2017 while also sporting a 4.30 through 16 starts in 2018. His career FIP of 3.44 makes him out to be a much better pitcher than what he’s shown the past few seasons, but he doesn’t look to be the surefire ace that he has shown he could be in the past.
Part of Archer’s allure lies in his very team-friendly contract. He is under control through 2021, being owed $7.5 mil in 2019 and $8.25 mil in 2020 and 2021. For a number two pitcher in a team’s rotation, this is a huge value deal dollar-wise. With that being said, the Rays might be pricing themselves out of a trade for their current franchise star.
Reports indicate the Rays are looking for a huge package that could leave the Padres very vulnerable if they give the Rays what they’re looking for. Prospects are only prospects and they are not guaranteed to find success in the big leagues, but with reports that Tampa Bay is looking for a return similar to Chris Sale’s prior to the 2017 season, the Padres should stay far away.
2019 was supposed to be the year that the Padres start contending but the team’s lackluster play in 2018 has seemingly pushed the window back another year. Dealing young talent for a good-not-great pitcher who would be wasted for one season seems irresponsible and the team should avoid making moves such as this until they have an established core in place. Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias, and Mackenzie Gore would seemingly need to be on the table for the Rays to even talk to AJ Preller’s front office, which should discourage the team from pursuing Archer any further.
If somehow the front office is able to convince the Rays to consider a package centered around right handed pitching prospects Cal Quantrill and Michel Baez then the Padres should definitely pursue Archer, but that doesn’t seem very likely. Right now the team must continue to build from within and hold off on trading high-profile prospects until the product on the field has improved.
In conclusion, the team should avoid Archer unless his price drops. He is a very good player, but the team would be betting on his contributions in two to three years while also dealing players that could conceivably be ready when the team’s window of contention opens.
Chris Archer is a fine player, but he shouldn’t be the team’s top priority at present.