Anytime Chris Archer is mentioned near the trade deadline, the Astros are probably close to the action.
Oh, Chris Archer still pitches for the Rays. The trade deadline is next Tuesday. And the Astros have been linked to the Rays’ pitcher for the fifteenth time? No, seriously, I’ve lost count.
The age-29 right-handed pitcher has, once again, been linked to numerous teams via trade rumors. The Astros happen to be one of those teams. I immediately thought “Surprise, surprise” in a sarcastic tone.
Interested parties are not limited to only the Astros as other contenders should be involved. Even rebuilding clubs like the Padres are in on the action. Yes, the Padres.
Archer is in the midst of another season with a low-four ERA. Entering Saturday, he had a 4.31 ERA over 96 innings. To his credit though, he pitches in the hitter-friendly AL East and has consistently posted a FIP in the mid-three range. Archer’s pitch velocity has held fairly constant throughout his career and he hasn’t thrown less than 200 innings since the 2014 season when he threw 194 2/3 innings. While he has not lived up to the traditional standards of a number one starter, an argument can be made he has been one with the proper context.
To be clear, I don’t think there’s a fit for Archer in the Astros’ starting rotation. Barring an unexpected development, there simply isn’t room for the Rays’ pitcher. I’m sure chatter will take place among the fans that Lance McCullers should be moved to the bullpen, but that’s extremely unlikely to happen. Take away a few rough starts, and McCullers has performed like one of the better starters in baseball.
Others will likely point to Dallas Keuchel’s impending free agency, but he’s still here today. It wouldn’t be a good look for the Astros to bump Keuchel elsewhere due to his contract status. While Archer would come with team control through 2021, thanks to team options, I don’t believe general manager Jeff Luhnow would mess with the best starting rotation in baseball right now. But if Archer is still available in the upcoming offseason, then this may be a different story.
Without an obvious fit, the Astros are also not likely to part ways with multiple top prospects to land Archer. Team control equates to tremendous value in today’s baseball. If a fit were to materialize, then I could see the argument for a potential trade. With the deadline only a few days away, I just don’t expect anything to emerge on this front. Ask me again if Archer is still in Tampa during November.