Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

History says Rays starters should prepare to be traded

LOS ANGELES — Chris Archer and Matt Moore have been preparing to pitch tonight and Wednesday, respectively, at Dodger Stadium. The gallows humor-type question in the clubhouse has been whether they would be pitching for the Rays or against them.

With trade rumors that prominently include the Dodgers hovering over Archer, Moore and Jake Odorizzi, and with the obvious connection to former Rays/now Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman, these two days will only exacerbate an already odd situation.

Figuring they'll see Friedman on the field during batting practice tonight, Odorizzi joked they may have a little fun and further fuel the speculation.

"We're thinking about maybe me, Matt and Arch go over and talk to him at the same time and see what happens," he said. "It's going to be crazier than it actually is."

Whether one of them does end up with the Dodgers — or the Rangers, Pirates, Marlins or someone else — will be known in the six days leading up to Monday's deadline for nonwaiver deals.

So far, the Rays have been talking with a number of teams on several fronts with no action. There has been heavy interest in those top three starters, along with other pitchers, such as Erasmo Ramirez, and position players such as Steve Pearce.

Ultimately, any deal the Rays do make involving one of the starters is going to be based on the return, not because they have to do something.

Most likely, that is going to be a package, headlined by a high-impact young position player (think Rangers infielders Jurickson Profar or, maybe, Joey Gallo; Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows; Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes) or/and some talented young arms who can replenish the pipeline.

If, after all the time and effort Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman and staff put in, they don't get their price from one of the contenders, they can just wait until the offseason when all the teams are in play.

But, eventually, they will trade a starter — or two, or three.

Dealing arms is what the Rays do.

Basically, it's part of their business model, to avoid ever paying inflated free agent retail prices for a starter:

Develop drafted or traded-for young arms, get several years of big-league success out of them, delay free agency when possible by signing them to long-term deals with team-friendly options then, before they get too expensive — and definitely before they can hit the market — trade them for newer models.

This is the organization that has traded Cy Young winner David Price, has traded All-Stars Scott Kazmir and James Shields, has traded ALCS MVP Matt Garza, has traded Jeremy Hellickson and Edwin Jackson and others.

So of course they are going to be talking about trading Archer, Moore and Odorizzi.

"I won't say I expect it, but I'm not going to be surprised because of the track record," Archer said. "We know what it is. We know the means. We know what it takes to be successful. We know the philosophy. You know that from Day 1. That's really all I can say. They have a way they choose to do business, for sure. … There has never been a starting pitcher make it to free agency."

All three are on record as saying they want to stay and hope the Rays keep the core intact.

But with Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley working their way back from Tommy John surgery, with Matt Andriese idling in the bullpen, with prospects Jacob Faria and Jamie Schultz already at Triple A and Taylor Guerrieri and Brent Honeywell coming, there is going to have to be some movement.

So who is most likely to go?

Archer would yield the biggest return, but the same inconsistent performance since his strong 2015 first half that could push the Rays to deal him may keep teams from paying the exorbitant price they seek.

Scouts seem split on how much help they'd get from Odorizzi, who is seen as a steady, mid-rotation addition at most, and thus may have more value to the Rays.

So that would make the favorite Moore, who has the stuff to be of higher impact in a playoff push but comes with a bigger risk — to both sides — in terms of health (having already had Tommy John surgery) and dollars.

There are other factors, including that Archer and Moore signed long-term deals. (Odorizzi talked with the Rays last offseason and declined.)

"It does go both ways, the loyalty should," Moore said. "Especially when the commitment wasn't one-sided."

It wasn't, but the Rays have to see it for the business decision that it is. While Moore makes a case that picking up his $7 million option for next season (vs. a $2.5 million buyout) seems like a no-brainer — noting they paid Price as much for half a season in 2014, and that they would benefit from his experience — the Rays may see it as no chance.

And as much of a bargain as Archer has been, making $4.25 million total for 2014-16, he starts to get somewhat costly, due $18.5 million for 2017-19.

"Even with signing (a long-term deal), you know that it's part of it, that at some point your name is going to be floated out there," Archer said.

If you pitch, especially well, for the Rays, that definitely is part of it.

"I'm not going to be shocked if one of us goes this week," Odorizzi said. "And I wouldn't be shocked if it didn't happen."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

business, for sure. … There has never been a starting pitcher make it to free agency."

All three are on record as saying they want to stay and hope the Rays keep the core intact.

But with Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley working their way back from Tommy John surgery, with Matt Andriese idling in the bullpen, with prospects Jacob Faria and Jamie Schultz already at Triple A and Taylor Guerrieri and Brent Honeywell coming, there is going to have to be some movement.

So who is most likely to go?

Archer would yield the biggest return, but the same inconsistent performance since his strong 2015 first half that could push the Rays to deal him may keep teams from paying the exorbitant price they seek.

Scouts seem split on how much help they'd get from Odorizzi, who is seen as a steady, mid-rotation addition at most, and thus may have more value to the Rays.

So that would make the favorite Moore, who has the stuff to be of higher impact in a playoff push but comes with a bigger risk — to both sides — in terms of health (having already had Tommy John surgery) and dollars.

There are other factors, including that Archer and Moore signed long-term deals. (Odorizzi talked with the Rays last offseason and declined.)

"It does go both ways, the loyalty should," Moore said. "Especially when the commitment wasn't one-sided."

It wasn't, but the Rays have to see it for the business decision that it is. While Moore makes a case that picking up his $7 million option for next season (vs. a $2.5 million buyout) seems like a no-brainer — noting they paid Price as much for half a season in 2014, and that they would benefit from his experience — the Rays may see it as no chance.

And as much of a bargain as Archer has been, making $4.25 million total for 2014-16, he starts to get somewhat costly, due $18.5 million for 2017-19.

"Even with signing (a long-term deal), you know that it's part of it, that at some point your name is going to be floated out there," Archer said.

If you pitch, especially well, for the Rays, that definitely is part of it.

"I'm not going to be shocked if one of us goes this week," Odorizzi said. "And I wouldn't be shocked if it didn't happen."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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