Jim Bowden wrote today about trades he would like to see before the Winter Meetings on ESPN Insider. Be prepared to laugh.
Rays receive: OF Alex Almora, OF/2B Ian Happ, OF Jorge Soler, and RHP Carl Edwards
Cubs receive: RHP Chris Archer, OF Kevin Kiermaier, and RHP Alex Colome
The Rays get absolutely fleeced in this deal. Lets break down the reasoning behind Bowden’s proposed trade.
If non-arbitration was a real concern of the Rays, they would trade most of the team every single year and there would be no progress at all.
Chris Archer isn’t arbitration eligible, due to his 6 year, $25 million contract signed in 2014 which bought out his arbitration years and a couple of free agent years. Kevin Kiermaier might make his first go through arbitration this offseason, where is his projected to earn a whopping $2.1 million according to MLB Trade Rumors. If he doesn’t then the Rays have Kiermaier for approximately $500K in 2017. Either way, he is very cheap by Rays standards, and could be worth every penny if he keeps his Gold Glove caliber defense and offensive production up.
Soler is also able to opt out of his remaining 3 year/$12 million next off-season and into his first year of arbitration, which would put the Rays right back and square one of this supposed arbitration “problem”.
I’m not sure why Bowden thinks Soler will break out by just getting to play every day. With this trade the Rays not only would be downgrading the offensive production of Kiermaier to Almora, they would also have a log-jam in the OF with Almora, Mahtook, Souza, Dickerson, Miller, and Franklin. The benefit of having Soler is that he is a RH bat option, but he has never hit more than 12 HR at any level of his MLB career, and he comes with injury concerns.
Rays fans know that projections are far different from actual results. The Rays have always valued MLB-proven talent, and a trade like this would be against that core Rays value. It’s unclear why the Rays would trade cost-controlled proven major leaguers for Almora and Soler, who have hardly proven themselves at the MLB level. If we were to combine the major league production of Almora and Soler we’d get 25 HR, 92 RBI, and 2.4 fWAR over 785 PA in two seasons. Compare that to Kiermaier, who hit 25 HR, 77 RBI, and is worth 9.3 fWAR in 949 PA over the same two seasons.
The Rays already have a high value, cheap cost 2B in Logan Forsythe, but he is not the long term solution. That would be Wily Adames, Daniel Robertson, Brad Miller, Matt Duffy or Nick Franklin. Even if you go deeper, you have Adrian Rondon or Lucius Fox who could slide into 2B. Adames is absolutely crushing every level of the minors, and could be up as soon as next season. If he forces his way onto the roster, the Rays could find him a spot at 2B or 3B. If Adames doesn’t make an appearance in 2017, the Rays still have Matt Duffy for 4 more years and Brad Miller for 3 years. That is some real middle infield depth. Happ could be a target for the Rays, based on his OBP skills, and ability to play the OF, but he is not meet a pressing need.
The Cubs need this deal more than the Rays do
This trade fills a lot of positional needs on the Cubs side, and none on the Rays. So why are the Rays giving up so much? The Rays have all the leverage in this off season; the only possible “need” is to trade LHP Drew Smyly due to his arbitration raise. If the Rays were to trade any of the players listed in Bowden’s article, the team would do better to trade each individually or as part of a package with lesser players.
There is absolutely no reason to trade both Archer and Kiermaier in the same deal. Even Fangraphs said that Archer alone is likely to cost more than Chris Sale, and in Bowden’s article he suggests that Sale is worth the number one prospect in all of baseball in Yoan Moncada. Sale has a better walk rate than Archer at 1.79 BB/9 compared to 3.00 BB/9, but Archer has a better strikeout rate at 10.42 K/9 compared to Sale’s 9.25 K/9, and Archer posted a 3.81 FIP which exactly matches Chris Sale’s. Archer also comes with more years of control with a cheaper average annual value than Sale. He has also, to our knowledge, never shredded his uniform just prior to game time.
From the Rays point of view this trade is dead on arrival. The Rays would never give up high quality talent for lesser value, especially if the Rays are really “hellbent on being competitive” in 2017. Jim Bowden, what were you thinking?