Tampa Bay Rays: Archer Confident No Trade Imminent

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 01: Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 01: Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Despite the ongoing rumors that the Tampa Bay Rays are engaged in consistent trade talks regarding Chris Archer, the Rays ace is confident that he will be on the Opening Day roster.

An extremely slow off-season for not only the Tampa Bay Rays but for all of baseball has fans shaking their head wondering when a major free agent signing is going to happen or which team will make the splash with a major trade.

The Rays made one of their splashes in December with the trade of Evan Longoria to San Francisco and speculation is that additional trades, specifically that of Chris Archer would follow. However, Archer is still a member of the Rays and according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Archer is confident that he will not be traded – at least not now.

“I’ve talked to GM Erik Neander a lot and he’s made me feel pretty good about being with the Rays in 2018,” Archer said.

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Throughout the off-season at least five teams, including the Cubs, Brewers, Twins and Yankees have been rumored to have interest in Archer, with the Cardinals leading the way as speculative talk mostly coming from the media had a Longoria/Archer and or a Longoria/Colome package in the works. However, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that Archer is the Cards “top target.”

While rumors continue that the Rays are engaged in consistent trade talks involving Archer, he understands that could change in the coming weeks as a handful of top free agent starters remain unsigned and if one of the interested teams comes forth with an offer the Rays cannot refuse.

At the same time, there is no rush that the Rays must trade Archer at this time. They certainly will and can entertain all the offers they want, but despite the modest rebuild of the team Archer’s value could climb as the season progresses with a trade possibly at the deadline.

One of Archer’s attractiveness is his contract – he is under contract for four more years at a very affordable salary of $34 million that includes this season’s salary of $6.25 million. Therefore, the return must meet the Ray’s needs, which I assume would include young, major league ready players that are under team control plus prospects.

However, I do see the Rays trading Denard Span and Jake Odorizzi before the season starts. For the second straight year, Odorizzi will have an arbitration hearing next month. He beat the Rays last year and is looking for another win. He filed for $6.3 million and the Rays countered with $6.05 million.

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Acquired from the Giants in the Longoria trade, Span came with a hefty $31 million, three-year deal (2016-2018) plus a mutual option of $12 million for 2019 or a $4 million buyout. The contract also includes a signing bonus ($6 million) that will be paid in equal installments (2017, 2018). In addition, there is performance bonuses that Span is eligible to receive for plate appearances and games played.

Salary wise, Span is set to receive $9 million for 2018 plus the signing bonus making him the highest paid player with a total salary of $12 million.

The Rays could have difficulty in trading Span because of his contract, average production (.272/.329/.427) with 12 home runs, 43 RBIs in 542 plate appearances and his defensive liabilities that will now move him from center to left field. FanGraphs ranked him as the worst defensive outfielder in the majors last season (minus-27 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-7.5 Ultimate Zone Rating).

Depending on the outcome of the two arbitration hearings (Odorizzi and Hechavarria) and the status of the roster as it is today, the roster is roughly $10 million ($86 million) above the Rays 2017 ending roster ($76 million).

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Next: Will the Rays Finally Stock Their Bullpen With Prospects?

With that in mind, the Rays best get going on making those trades in order to reduce payroll. It makes you really wonder why the Rays traded Evan Longoria in the first place.