An old baseball adage suggests “you can never have enough pitching,” and most of the high-profile movement this offseason, both in terms of free agency and trades, is backing up that notion. Front offices around the league are paying sizable prices to improve their rotations and bullpens.

Expect more of the same leading up to spring training since there’s still a talented group of starters available via trade. And there’s plenty of demand among contenders as they look to keep pace with the likes of the reigning champion Chicago Cubs and likely offseason winner Boston Red Sox.

With that in mind, let’s check out some of the latest trade buzz from around MLB and analyze what it could mean for the players and teams involved.


Rays Seeking King’s Ransom for Chris Archer

Chris Archer didn’t live up to expectations leading the Tampa Bay Rays staff this past season. The 28-year-old right-hander went 9-19 with a 4.01 ERA and 1.24 WHIP across 33 starts. Those numbers represented his worst performance since a brief six-game cameo in 2012.

Things weren’t as bad as they may seem on the surface, though. He posted a more typical 3.25 ERA after the All-Star break and still struck out an eye-popping 233 batters in 201.1 innings. His 3.41 xFIP for the season was also below his career average, according to FanGraphs.

That’s why the Rays still want a boatload in return if they decide to trade him. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the front office is seeking a package bigger than the one the Chicago White Sox received for Chris Sale, which included prized prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

Mark Bowman of previously noted Archer was the most likely trade target for the Atlanta Braves, but they felt the asking price was too high. The latest update from Topkin explains why.

Of course, there’s no rush for Tampa to make a deal. The starter remains under team control for five more years at club-friendly prices of no more than $8.25 million, per Spotrac. It adds to his value and takes away some of the risk associated with a potential trade.

The Braves make sense as a landing spot. They are looking to turn the corner after a rebuild and have bolstered their rotation with veterans Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. An ace is still needed, however, but it sounds like they’ll wait to see if the price drops before going all-in on Archer.


Clay Buchholz Being Pushed into Market

Clay Buchholz is an enigma. There are certain years, like 2010 (2.33 ERA) and 2013 (1.74 ERA), when he performs like one of the top pitchers in baseball. Alas, there are also certain seasons, like 2016 (4.78 ERA), when he pitches on a level barely worthy of a major league roster spot.

The 32-year-old Texas native did pitch better down the stretch last season. He accumulated a 3.22 ERA in 19 appearances split between the rotation and bullpen after the All-Star break. It was a much-needed turnaround after finishing the first half with a 5.91 mark.

Now it seems like the Red Sox may try to capitalize on his resurgence by moving him while the pitching market is hot. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported the front office is trying to sell teams on Buchholz rather than Drew Pomeranz as it looks to clear a pitching logjam.

The Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners are among the teams that have called Boston about possibly acquiring a starter, according to Cafardo. He pointed out the veteran’s $13.5 million contract for 2017 is a hurdle in talks, though.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is having a strong offseason, but getting value for Buchholz will be a challenge. Not only is the contract a problem, but the peripheral statistics don’t lend a ton of hope to a major rebound next season.

A team like the Twins is probably Boston’s best bet to unload him. Minnesota continues to lean far too heavily on pitchers with low strikeout potential, and it could still use another starter after Jose Berrios struggled mightily in his first taste of action in the majors in 2016.


Houston Astros Casting Wide Pitching Net

The Houston Astros are prepared to make some serious noise next season. They added Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Nori Aoki to help create one of the league’s most well-rounded lineups, and they’re already strong in the bullpen, where so many other teams are looking to upgrade.

While the starting rotation lacks star power outside of Dallas Keuchel, it’s still a rock-solid group that’s probably good enough to guide the team to the playoffs as it sits. Adding another starter with No. 1 or No. 2 ability could move Houston toward title contention, though.

Brian McTaggart of reported the Astros are making an effort in that area, adding, “The team has the prospects to get a deal done and is likely to make a move at some point.” He listed Jose Quintana, Jake Odorizzi, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Archer as notable targets.

Aside from Archer, Quintana is the name that stands out most from the group. The 27-year-old lefty has been one of the most reliable starters in baseball since making his debut in 2012. He holds a career 3.41 ERA and has never finished a season with a mark above 3.76.

If the Astros could acquire him for a package of prospects to take the spot where Charlie Morton is penciled in, it’d become hard to find a weak spot on the roster. Such a move would push the team all-in for next season, but it feels like a leap worth taking after years of building.


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