Editorials

Seattle Mariners Trade-a-Day: Chris Archer

The Seattle Mariners haven't completed a trade in over three months. And with the new restrictions surrounding the rosters of the potential 60 game season, they likely won't make very many "impact" trades this summer either. But that won't stop us from looking ahead to some trades they might make this winter.

In a return for our most popular series from the website that dare not speak its name, we are happy to return our “Mariners Trade-a-Day” series where we will discuss one trade candidate on the site (almost) every day between now and the trade deadline. But as we mentioned above, the roster restrictions will mean some of these trades will need to wait until the winter. We should also note that, for now, we are going to assume that 2021 will be a full season, or at least relatively close.

But the premise is simple. We pick a player, discuss the reason’s why he might make sense for the Mariners, and then build a trade package that we would feel comfortable offering for some player. With those simple rules in mind, let’s kick off our series with an oldie but goodie, right-handed pitcher, Chris Archer.

Archer has long since been a popular trade target for Mariners’ fans, but up until last off-season, it was often seen as nothing more than a pipe dream. After all, Archer was really good for Tampa Bay and Seattle just didn’t have the ammo to make a deal happen. And considering what the Rays ultimately got for Archer, you can’t even be mad that Seattle didn’t land him the first time. But man, how quickly things change.

Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Chris Archer has been nothing short of a massive disappointment for the Pirates. In 33 starts for the Bucs, Archer has posted a 4.92 ERA, a 4.71 FIP, and a 1.395 WHIP. In addition, Archer will miss the entire 2020 season due to injury and he has just one year left of club control, in the form of a team option worth $11 million.

So why would Seattle be interested in a 1-year stopgap coming off an injury and a disappointing career with his current club? Well, simply put, he’s going to be cheap. Not free, but cheap. In addition, Archer still has good stuff, as indicated by his 10.8 K/9 stat from 2019. The Pirates are in the midst of a deep rebuild and already boast one of the lowest payrolls in the game. Chances are, the Pirates will want to rid themselves of 32-year-old Archer.

Meanwhile, the Mariners appear to have their 2021 rotation written in ink. Or at least, that’s what most fans think. In some order, the 2021 rotation should include Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and Logan Gilbert. But with 9 months between opening day 2021 and now, a lot can change for Seattle including, but not limited to, trades and injuries.

There is also the possibility that Kikuchi struggles in 2020 and Seattle decides that either Dunn and/or Sheffield would provide more value to Seattle our of the bullpen. And while the Mariners aren’t expected to compete in 2021, remember back to the first winter of the rebuild when Dipoto attempted to acquire Sonny Gray, who like Archer, was a bad fit on his current team and had just one year left on his contract. Why would a team in year one of a rebuild be interested in a rental?

It’s all about acquisition cost. The team believes it can help Gray or Archer get back on track and can than either, 1. flip them in-season for a profit, 2. get valuable innings from them to allow development to occur naturally at the lower levels, or 3. sign the player to an extension. Archer could check all three boxes.

But what about cost? We said Archer would be cheap, but not free. What does that mean? Well when you look at the Sonny Gray trade, the Yankees landed a competitve balance A pick and Shed Long (who they would ironically flip to Seattle for Josh Stowers). This isn’t a world beating package but again, it isn’t nothing. Could Seattle fashion a similar deal? Here is our proposal:

Pittsburgh Pirates trade Chris Archer to the Seattle Mariners for Mallex Smith and Brayan Perez

Like I said, not free. But for a #3 starter with #2 upside, it is a discount. The Mariners may even be able to get away with less. But for now, it seems like a good starting point. Mallex Smith won’t be around long-term for Seattle but gives the Pirates two years of an everyday player and an interesting lottery ticket arm that could develop into a #4 starter in the next two years.

If Pittsburgh wants more control, names like Braden Bishop and Jake Fraley could also be thrown around, but once you start to creep higher than that in prospect ranks, it becomes increasingly unlikely a deal would make sense for Seattle.

A Chris Archer trade has a lot of hoops to jump through, the biggest being Archer’s health, followed closely by the Pirates willingness to trade Archer. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to keep Archer and hope he regains trade vale in 2021. But the Pirates are a rather cheap organization and we can’t rule out the possibility that they’ll simple decline the option and make Archer an unrestricted free agent. Only time will tell what the Pirates plan to do, but if they do make Archer available, the Mariners should be interested.

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