Chris Archer, Rays:
Chris Archer is undoubtedly the top starting pitcher on the trade market. Not only is the 29-year-old right-hander averaging 245 strikeouts per season over the last three seasons, but his contract is also well below market value. Archer is set to earn just 6.25 million next year and 7.5 million in 2019, with two club options for 8.25 million in 2020 and 2021. The fact that he would only cost 6.4 million against the cap especially appeals to the Dodgers who are trying desperately to get under the luxury tax so this year so they are better equipped to resign Clayton Kershaw next offseason.
This move also makes sense for the Rays because the Dodgers are one of the few teams that are both seeking a starting pitcher and has the depth of prospects to give the Rays a worthwhile return. Having already sold off Evan Longoria, it appears the Rays are in selloff mode and trading Archer while he has his most value only makes sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers wait until the trade deadline before they aggressively pursue Archer as doing so would give young starters like Walker Buehler a chance to prove themselves in the Dodgers rotation.
This deal could happen this offseason, at the deadline, or next offseason, but it seems inevitable that at some point the Rays will deal him, and when they do they should expect to get a huge haul in return.
Suitors: Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, Cardinals
Chris Archer (RHP)
Joc Pederson (OF)
Will Smith (C) (#8 prospect)
Dustin May (RHP) (#14 prospect)
Carlos Rincon (OF), (#23 prospect)
Headlining the package for the Rays could be Joc Pederson, a talented center fielder that has failed to live up to the hype that he built during the first half of his rookie season. Despite Pederson’s struggles, particularly against left-handed pitching, he has the type of on-base skills that the Rays value highly.
Will Smith would be a logical second piece in this deal. Despite being one of the top catching prospects in the game, the Dodgers can afford to trade him because of the emergence of Austin Barnes at the big league level and the development of Keibert Ruiz in the minors.
Dustin May is a hard-throwing right-hander with a projectable 6’6’ frame. He is just the type of pitching prospect the Rays could mold into a stud if they can find a way to make his mechanics more repeatable.
Other Trade Candidates (SP):