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MLB Trade Deadline: Building a trade for Chris Archer

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Which team really has the pieces to make a deal?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

At this point there almost too many teams in on Chris Archer to list. Archer, whose availability at the trade line is dominating baseball chatter, is creating a lot of interest and with that much smoke there’s fire. As the trade deadline nears, the teams involved are coming into focus.

Beyond the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, three more teams have been added to the potential suitor list.

Along with those names is the already known interest of the Astros, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Indians, and Phillies. There are enough teams involved that the Rays may be able to make their demands clear in trade value and wait for the highest bidder. Leverage is a beautiful thing.

It’s not that long ago that Chris Archer’s surplus value (thanks to his under-market value contract) earned comparisons to the White Sox ace Chris Sale, which netted the No. 1 prospect in baseball along with two more players from Boston’s loaded Top-10 list.

Obviously, no trade of that caliber has come along yet, and with Archer performing less than elite this season, his trade value is more in line with what we saw netted by the White Sox for Jose Quintana, a trade comparison J.T. Morgan detailed earlier this week:

Quintana ended up being dealt to the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs. The Cubs traded OF Eloy Jiminez (#8 BA 2017 Mid-Season Top 100), RHP Dylan Cease (#83 BA 2017 Mid-Season Top 100), 1B Matt Rose, and IF Bryant Flete.

The bulk of the value was in the first two names. A top-10 batter and back-end top-100 pitcher have a lot of value. That’s a good starting point for any potential discussions in an Archer trade.

No two trade markets are alike, but can any of those teams build a similar deal for the best change of scenery candidate in baseball?

Let’s dive in. All rankings courtesy of the Baseball America mid-season update for 2018.

Atlanta Braves

One of the better farm systems in baseball, the Braves top pitching prospect has a shoulder injury, so we begin with their top hitter and work from there.

Likely trade targets:

  • 3B Austin Riley (No. 29)
  • RHP Ian Anderson (No. 38) or RHP Kyle Wright (No. 40)
  • OF Cristian Pache (No. 98) or OF Drew Waters (NR)
  • RHP Touki Toussaint (NR) or LHP Kolby Allard (NR)

The best young pieces in Atlanta are already part of the Braves rebuild, but stepping out of the top-10 for a centerpiece casts a wider net on the Top-100.

Riley is young for his level and a reasonable start, and nabbing Wright would make an Archer deal a win for the Rays. Add a young outfield prospect and a Triple-A starter, and I don’t see how Tampa Bay says no.

Danny’s best guess: Riley, Wright, Pache, and Allard makes this too difficult to pass up.

Chicago Cubs

By contrast to the Braves system, the only prospect the Cubs have remaining in the Top-100 is catcher Miguel Amaya (No. 100 overall). And besides that, the team that once traded Archer to the Rays has already spent big in acquiring Cole Hamels. There’s not a trade to build here because their big acquisition already happened.

Likely trade targets:

  • C Miguel Amaya (No. 100)
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (NR) or SS Nico Hoerner (NR)
  • SS Aramis Ademan (NR)
  • UTIL David Bote (NR)
  • More...?

The Cubs have some interesting pieces, particularly with their A-Ball pitchers (I’d try to grab RHP Jose Albertos and LHP Bryan Hudson in a deal here), and Statcast darlings like David Bote who has big exit velocity, but there’s just not a need. The biggest motivator here has to be Chicago’s buyer’s remorse on ever giving Archer away.

Danny’s best guess: Move along.

Houston Astros

The Astros interest may not be sincere, their rotation is one of the best in baseball, but the addition of Chris Archer would block other teams that want to prevent a Houston repeat as World Series champions. Taking him off the market may not be a terrible strategy.

Likely trade targets:

  • RHP Forrest Whitley (No. 7) or OF Kyle Tucker (No. 8)
  • RHP Corbin Martin (No. 82)
  • RHP David Paulino (NR) or RHP Josh James (NR)
  • Lotto ticket (RHP Jairo Solis?)

Now we’re cooking with heat!

The Rays would almost certainly be interested in acquiring either of the top Astros prospects. Whitley may be a piece the Astros move, given that in acquiring Archer the pitcher would be blocked from the majors well down the depth chart. A 50-game suspension and a lat injury upon his return have derailed his season. Perhaps that makes Whitley easier to move. Meanwhile, Kyle Tucker fits the style of Rays prospects, and his major league debut is not going swimmingly for the recently promoted left fielder.

Adding the rebounding Carlos Gomez to the trade could spice things up and help the Rays land Tucker but, again, why would Houston need to acquire Archer when they have five solid starters holding things down?

Danny’s best guess: Tucker, Martin, and James is irresistible, but it’s not happening.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have an opportunity to be bold in an acquisition of Archer, but there’s a question here as to why they’d want to move their best pieces for the Rays ace.

Likely trade targets:

  • RHP Walker Buehler (No. 13 pre-season, injured) or OF Alex Verdugo (No. 25)
  • C/3B Will Smith (No. 86) or INF Gavin Lux (No. 89)

Who headlines this deal? Buehler fits what the Rays are looking for as they rebuild the rotation, and it’s possible the Dodgers want a player who can win-now (as Buehler is recovering from a rib fracture). On the other hand, Verdugo seems like a Rays prospect, and he is currently contributing in a platoon role with Kike Hernandez in the malleable Dodgers lineup.

Danny’s best guess: Buehler, Lux, and two lotto tickets gets it done.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers must be all in given the hefty deal they just made for Mike Moustakas, and Chris Archer compliments the style of team they are building, but the Brewers lack a top of the line prospect to trade.

Likely trade targets:

  • 2B Keston Hiura (No. 34)
  • RHP Corbin Burnes (No. 58) or RHP Freddy Peralta (No. 69)
  • OF Corey Ray (NR)

Drafted injured, Hiura was a top-10 selection last year but doesn’t fit the mold of what the Rays seem to be doing. He’s been eased into second base reps this year at Double-A but his elbow remains a big question mark.

If the Rays could acquire all four pieces listed above, there’s a possibility the team rolls the dice by diversifying risk, but if the Rays are going to move Archer they should be doing so for not only clear major league regulars but elite pieces.

Danny’s best guess: All of the above, but there’s not enough here.

New York Yankees

Now here we go:

I’m guessing Gleyber Torres isn’t available?

Likely trade targets:

  • LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 22)
  • OF Clint Frazier (No. 39, pre-season 2017) or OF Estevan Florial (No. 56)
  • RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (No. 68) or RHP Albert Abreu (No. 78)
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo (NR) or RHP Matt Sauer (NR)
  • More...?

Sheffield is an undersized but hard throwing lefty that has to kick off any trade discussion, but for the Rays to deal their top pitcher (in brand and talent) to the Yankees would require a robbery of their farm.

Danny’s best guess: If Cashman wants to go all-in, call his bluff, but nothing’s happening.

San Diego Padres

Look, it’s really hard for a blog written by fans to be objective, and there seems to be a clear divide in the blogging world on just how valuable Padres prospects should be, as our sister site Gaslamp Ball acknowledges. With that said, you’ve gotta give something to get something, and boy do the Padres have much to give.

Likely trade targets:

  • LHP MacKenzie Gore (No. 19) or LHP Adrian Morejon (No. 23)
  • Many hitters: C/OF Francisco Mejia (No. 24), INF Luis Urias (No. 32), 1B/DH Josh Naylor (No. 93), C Austin Allen (NR)
  • Even more pitchers: RHP Chris Paddack (No. 62), LHP Logan Allen (No. 74), RHP Michel Baez (No. 77), RHP Cal Quantrill (No. 92), RHP Luis Patino (NR), LHP Osvaldo Hernandez (NR)

There’s a lot to mix and match here, but why would the Padres do this again?

Say A.J. Preller wants to watch the world burn and goes all in for 2019 by building now. Can we make any guesses on what’s actually on the table here? Tatis Jr. is off the table, so it starts with one of the 19-year-old lefties, and in that case I think both parties lean more toward Morejon changing hands.

From there Mejia has the hitting pedigree, but it’s hard for me to see the Rays accepting his level of defense, and the same goes for Urias (no matter how many times his name leaks). Naylor is also a man without much of a position, so he could make this trade interesting in a Schwarber kind of way, but truth be told I’d rather see the Rays target the Friars depth at pitching overall.

Danny’s best guess: All pitchers baby! Morejon, Paddack, Allen, and Patino

St. Louis Cardinals

I wrote about how the Cardinals have what it takes to trade for Chris Archer on Friday, and I meant it. Their status as a .500 club in the National League means the playoffs are not out of reach, and the team has some serious potential to deal from depth.

Likely trade targets:

  • OF Tyler O’Neill (No. 38, pre-season 2017)
  • C Carson Kelly (NR) or C Stephen Knizner (NR)
  • RHP Dakota Hudson (NR) or LHP Austin Gomber (NR)
  • Lotto ticket (3B Elehuris Montero?)

This deal lacks the Top-100 pedigree but the pieces are quite useful for the Rays rebuild. O’Neill is a star in my book, Kelly or Knizner could be a star catcher (and Molina means there can only be one in St. Louis), and Hudson replaces Archer on the depth chart. To round out the deal, St. Louis has plenty of pitching to offer as well.

I see no reason why the Cardinals couldn’t spoil everyone else’s party with a deal that meets needs up and down the Rays roster.

Danny’s best guess: O’Neill, Knizner, and Hudson make this an easy trade for both sides.