Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer is reportedly generating interest ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline despite a lackluster first half of the 2016 season. 

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Archer Could Become Most Coveted Starter Available

Thursday, July 21

Jayson Stark of ESPN reported Thursday the Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged as the apparent favorite for Archer. One source told Stark there’s a “70 percent” chance the starter lands with L.A.

Archer entered the season with sky-high expectations after a terrific 2015 campaign that saw him post a 3.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while striking out 252 batters in 212 innings. Those numbers showed he had the potential to become one of the American League’s top aces.

Instead, he’s taken a step back so far this year. He sports a 4.60 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP through 21 starts. Although a starter’s record doesn’t carry a ton of weight, especially on a struggling team like Tampa Bay, his 5-13 mark is still unsightly.

The 27-year-old North Carolina native told Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times on July 14 he’s not entirely sure why his results haven’t matched up with his prior success: “I’ve had a pretty good career. You can break it down in six-month intervals if you want. My total body of work pretty speaks to who I am. The honest answer is I don’t know. I have so much upside, so much potential.”

His biggest problem has been a lack of command. He’s walking 3.7 batters per nine innings this season compared to 2.8 last year. Those extra free passes have caused him to get into more jams, and he’s only had moderate success working out of them.

It’s not all bad news, though. His strikeout rate (10.7) ranks seventh in baseball among qualified starting pitchers. He’s also seen increases in batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and the ratio of home runs to fly balls against him, which is partly why his xFIP is a more reasonable 3.60, per FanGraphs.

Ultimately, the intriguing question in trade talks will be the asking price. It’s unclear whether the Dodgers, and any other interested teams, are trying to buy low or if they’re still willing to pay top dollar based on the Rays star’s past success and peripheral stats.

Archer isn’t having the season Tampa wanted from him. That said, he’s better than his baseline numbers suggest, and he’s under club control through 2021 at a reasonable price, as Spotrac figures show. So the Rays would be making a major mistake trading him away without getting a king’s ransom in return.


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