Gerrit Cole has come and gone. The Yankees made an impressive pitch but were unwilling to part with some of their core prospect talent in a deal to land the talented young hurler. While Clint Frazier or Chance Adams were available; Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Justus Sheffield were not. Some will argue that Frazier was more talented than others listed but the reality is it was all about farm system depth. The Yankees are also linked to Yu Darvish as a possible free agent signing with some believing he can be signed for almost half of what the MLB Hot Stove season projections listed. But should the Yankees stand pat with the rotation they have since it is better than many will admit, should they sign Darvish, or should they shoot for a headline that reads, “Yankees acquire Chris Archer?”
This concept, like any trade involving talented young Major League Baseball players, comes down to the immortal debate. What is more valuable? Proven talent already at the highest level or the number of prospects with all their upside that a team would be giving up? I would make the same statement here that I have made verbally and in writing often over the years. Prospects no matter how highly regarded are just that, prospects. You can talk all you want about this tool or that tool, that metric or this metric but the reality is nothing has been proven. There is also something else to consider when thinking about a complete sight picture and that item is team positional depth. A team might have three incredible outfield prospects but they could all be blocked. If that team has three to five players already up that are performing and are on the right side of 30 then those prospects are available to trade. Sometimes it is the big leaguer that is dealt but more often than not it is the prospect. I wanted to make sure we covered that when thinking about a “Yankees acquire Chris Archer” scenario.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – Prerequisites
Before any trade scenario can be considered, we must first figure out if the Tampa Bay Rays would be willing to consider a trade within the division that culminates in a headline the reads “Yankees acquire Chris Archer.” The knee-jerk reaction is that they would never trade within the division but that is not accurate. For years, it was accurate but the last two years it appears to be shifting. Here are the players they traded and to which team in the American League East.
2016 – Steve Pearce to Orioles
2017 – Tim Beckham to Orioles
While nothing seems overly impressive, they did move a productive bat in Pearce and a former number one draft pick in Beckham. You could argue that deals to the Orioles are different than deals to the Red Sox or Yankees but it does at least show a shift. So it would seem that the Rays would have to be floored by an offer but if that offer presents itself they just might move Archer within the AL East. Especially when the team began a rebuild by dealing Evan Longoria. Archer can be afforded but if the Rays are looking three to four years into the future then they will probably deal him for the army of talent they can bring into the farm system given the likelihood that they will not be able to re-sign him when he hits the streets.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – What Might The Rays Want
When a team is embarking on a rebuilding effort than almost anyone is available for trade or acquisition. This is all about a concept where the team looks to fill current holes and plan for a run in the next three to five years. When you look at the depth chart currently the Rays could use a player to fill a void at third base, first base, left field, and everyone could use rotational depth. Mallex Smith is a good but not great player in left field, Matt Duffy is trying to fill a void at third, and Brad Miller is currently taking the helm at first. None of these are foundational players.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – Yankees Prospects That Line Up
Clint Frazier – OF – The hype train has been around Big Red for years now. He is an above average defender that is full of energy. He was the centerpiece of the Miller deal. He hit .240 in his time with the big club in 2017. Some say he will have an okay career while others peg him as a superstar in the making regardless he can play a mean center field or left if asked.We will see what the 23-year-old has soon enough.
Chance Adams – RHP – He carries a mid-90s fastball with a nasty slider while also developing a better change-up. Very strong numbers in Double-A and Triple-A. He is ready for a Spring Training audition now and at 23, there are many years ahead of him.
Justus Sheffield – LHP – 21-year-old lefty that throws in the mid-90s. Command has been a bit of an issue but when he is on he is almost unhittable with three plus pitches. He carries the aforementioned fastball, a slider, and a change-up that call be out pitches.
Miguel Andujar – 3B – Had a brief audition at the big league level in 2017. Less than 10 at-bats but drove in runs and got a couple of extra-base hits. He has pop in his bat and can also hit for average. He has a huge arm but his range at the hot corner is minimal at best. He can improve since he is only 22 but he is not pegged to be an All-Star caliber player.
Tyler Austin – 1B, OF – He has pop in his bat and showed well in limited MLB time. Keeps getting hit by injuries or varying types but has the ability to play three different positions. At 25, he is reaching his let me play time and in a worst case scenario he can be a solid role player with pop.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – Archer vs Cole
As we are all aware of, the Yankees made plays at Gerrit Cole this offseason before he was eventually traded to the Astros. Rumors have stated that the Yankees offered packages that included Clint Frazier or Chance Adams but were not willing to part with Justus Sheffield, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and others. There is a small debate on what Cole was worth but he would have brought in a young arm with two more years of team control with him (albeit arb years). From a controllability perspective, Archer is not a UFA until 2022 while Cole is a UFA in 2020. So Archer comes with two more years of team control while both are in essence the same age. Let’s quickly look at a stats for stat comparison of Archer and Cole.
Data Courtesy of Fangraphs
When you look at the numbers above they have been gathered using common years (2013-2017). It can also not be understated that Chris Archer pitched in the AL East while Gerrit Cole pitched in the senior circuit. There is a big difference between the leagues (DH vs P in a lineup spot) and the divisions they both pitched in. It is intriguing to look at FIP for both. Cole seems to be trending in the wrong direction over the last couple of years while Archer showed improvement from 2016 to 2017. Looking at the numbers, the divisions played in, and the controllability aspects; Chris Archer to me is infinitely more valuable than Cole (and I am by no means saying Cole is a slouch).
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – How It Could Happen
As we talked about earlier in this piece, trading within the division comes with a multiplier for the selling team. Also, you have to factor in team control and the deal of a contract that Archer currently possesses. The scenarios laid out below while probably make Yankee fans lose their collective minds but this is merely about how the Yankees could get a deal done. It is up to the poll at the end for the fans to decide if the price would be too high, a deal or something people are willing to except.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – POSSIBLE TRADE NO. 1
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer and Daniel Robertson
Rays Acquire Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner, Chance Adams, Single-A Pitcher TBN, and $3 MIL
Insanity? Well, settle down a little bit folks. Let’s look at this a bit through the eyes of Brian Cashman and not from a fanatic perspective. Where are the Rays glaring needs? Pitching, Third Base, and First Base. You could even argue that a little veteran leadership would not be a bad thing. With that in mind, the Rays would not be sending Archer as a salary dump since he was team affordable. They would make the deal if it meets the current and projected team needs.
The buzz is high on Andujar even though he never projected as anything out of this world. You could argue he is 2x the value from previous points in his career due to the small audition last year. Chance Adams is ready to step up to the MLB level now and would get a shot in the Rays rotation due to a lack of depth and need for young talent. Brett Gardner could step in for the current projected left fielder and be an improvement. He would also bring veteran leadership to a roster that could use it. Since he is in the last year of his deal the Rays get the salary drop at the end of 2018. The Yankees would be willing to kick in the $3 MIL to offset the salary differential between Archer and Gardner. The Bombers would throw in another low-level arm that gives the Rays another pitching prospect to develop.
The Yankees add Chris Archer to keep pace with the insanity of the Astros rotation. They control him at a very affordable level for a few years and he has proven his chops in the AL East already. The move would provide depth and allow them to either go to a six-man rotation or allow Jordan Montgomery some more seasoning time. Daniel Robertson is young but will never be a “next level player.” He is versatile and played three positions last year. He could play third or second next season and then move to super-utility role if the Yankees can make a run and land Manny Machado during free agency. This deal also makes room for Clint Frazier’s audition in left field and center.
This scenario has its positives and negatives but from the angle of Brian Cashman you are dealing prospects and a player you are not going to resign for a proven arm with solid advanced statistics and team control at an affordable rate. It is not a slam dunk but it is solid.
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer – POSSIBLE TRADE NO. 2
Yankees Acquire Chris Archer
In this scenario, Tampa Bay addresses a few concerns. One thing is cheap controllable talent and that comes with all four of the players they get. The Rays cobbled together a reasonable bullpen by the end of last year but they are losing a lot of them. Tommy Kahnle is a great bullpen arm that can be the setup man or the closer if they want to try him out. He is team controllable for a couple more years at low rates. As mentioned in the other option, Chance Adams is ready to step up to the MLB level now and would get a shot in the Rays rotation due to a lack of depth and need for young talent. He has a solid fastball and some plus pitches. He could be in Tampa for a few years. Tyler Austin is a bit of a gamble but he would slot in with a real shot to open the year as the Rays Frist Baseman. Rounding out the deal is Cessa, a player that helped the big club in 2016 after being acquired the year prior. It gives the Rays a back of the rotation guy to help out and he is only in his mid-20s.
The Yankees add just one piece in this scenario but it is a big piece. A 24-year-old that can slot in as the instant 1A to Severino. The prospects the Yankees could not afford to lose remain intact. Losing Kahnle is a shot to the bullpen but it is an area of strength and the Bombers can afford the move. Austin is a future role player in New York given the state of the current position allocations. Cessa had his shot and he is a spot starter but he is not going to hold down a spot in the rotation long term. Just imagine Severino, Archer, Tanaka, Gray, and Montgomery or Sabathia. That can line up with the rotation in Houston arm for arm. Remember, it is not just a prospects projected ability but also his projected opportunity or lack of opportunity.
There you have it, a couple of scenarios that could end with the announcement that “Yankees acquire Chris Archer.” Would you be willing to make one of those deals? Would you be willing to deal the prospects required in order to add Chris Archer?
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