According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Braves are interested in making a deal for Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer if the Rays are willing to part with him this offseason. Archer was previously the center of rumors at the 2016 MLB trade deadline as the Los Angeles Dodgers were reportedly interested in trading for the 28-year-old right-hander.
Archer is coming off the worst season of his career as he compiled a 9-19 record with a 4.02 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. While his ERA and WHIP were up this year, Chris’ astounding 19 losses were due in part to an offense that only provided him with 3.48 runs per start, which was the fifth-fewest in the major leagues.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 8, 2016
Despite his struggles, Chris Archer still struck out 233 batters in only 201.1 innings pitched and only walked 67 batters. It wasn’t a problem with his stuff, but more with location, as he finished tied for ninth in MLB with 30 home runs allowed last season. If Archer can get those home run numbers down, he would instantly be right back where he’s been for the majority of his career.
Aside from his obvious talent and great stuff, the most appealing thing about Archer on the trade market is his team-friendly contract. As it stands, 2017 will be the fourth year of a six-year, $25.5 million contract that Archer signed back in 2014. During the upcoming season, Chris will make a base salary of $4.75 million, but the number only rises to $6.25 million in 2018 and $7.5 million in 2019. Archer also has an $8.25 million option for 2020. Any team able to make a deal for Chris would get four seasons from one of the top pitchers in baseball at a massive discount.
Report: Braves have spoken to the Rays about Chris Archer https://t.co/nxOLorwsSR
— HardballTalk (@HardballTalk) November 8, 2016
Due to his team-friendly contract and his talent level, it’s going to take a lot for any team to acquire Chris Archer, but the Atlanta Braves do have the ammunition to pull off a deal.
When President of Baseball Operations, John Hart, joined the Braves back in 2014, his immediate goal was to completely tear down and rebuild the organization. A lot of the team’s roster was old, and Atlanta was no longer a threat to win the World Series. Hart’s philosophy was to trade off any veteran assets and reload with younger players and prospects.
— Talking Chop (@TalkingChop) November 8, 2016
Some of those trades have brought in players such as Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler, Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, Rio Ruiz, and Mike Foltynewicz, among others. The purge has seen Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Shelby Miller, Melvin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons, and Alex Wood all leave via trade.
Now, the Braves are reportedly set to make a run towards the playoffs with their new stadium set to open, and general manager John Coppolella said that the team needs to acquire more major-league-ready starting pitching in order to do that.
“On our hierarchy of needs, at the apex of the pyramid is starting pitching,” he said. “We need starting pitching. That’s something we need. Improved catching is a want. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need. (Here he smiled.)”
“That’s kind of where we’re at – starting pitching’s going to be our focus. If there is a good deal for a catcher that makes sense, that’s something that we’ll have to at least look at.”
— David O’Brien (@DOBrienAJC) November 8, 2016
If the Atlanta Braves could pull off a deal for Chris Archer, it would give the team one of the best one-two punches in MLB with Julio Teheran. They would still have to figure out the rest of the rotation and rebuild the bullpen, but it would definitely be a big step forward for one of the worst teams in baseball in 2016.
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