Saturday, November 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Trade-deadline waiting 'unsettling' for Rays' Chris Archer

BALTIMORE — Chris Archer is used to being in control.

So as he headed home to North Carolina to take care of some previously scheduled nonbaseball business on Monday's team off-day, he acknowledged that it has been "unsettling" waiting for his Rays bosses to do their business in deciding whether to trade him before Tuesday's deadline.

"That's the strangest part,'' Archer said before Sunday's 11-5 loss, their third straight to the majors-worst Orioles. "That's why this situation is unsettling, because everything else is pretty much in our control.

"I've got the baseball in my hand. And now my career is not in my hands. That's fine, that's the business part of it. But that's why it's unsettling.''

Archer's future is the subject of broad discussion and debate because of heavy interest since the right-hander is one of the few available frontline pitchers who is more than a rental, under team control for three more seasons at the relative bargain rate of $27.5 million total.

Plus, there is a strong sense around the game that the Rays are more willing than ever before to trade the two-time All-Star, who is 3-5, 4.31 this season, 54-68, 3.69 over parts of seven overall.

And the circumstances seem to be lining up as several of the teams with the deepest pools of young major- and advanced minor-league talent are interested, led by the Braves, Padres and Yankees. The Dodgers have been reported to be in serious pursuit, with the Cardinals and Pirates joining a group of others, around a dozen total, also showing interest.

With the Rays advancing Saturday to weighing offers, the question ultimately will be whether a team is willing to give up enough now, with a catcher and power-hitting outfielder a good start to a package, to get the Rays to say yes rather than wait for the offseason, or longer, to deal him. (And in the remaining hours, play off the teams that might prefer to wait versus those eager to make a deal now.)

Archer is the most prominent but not the only player the Rays could move by Tuesday.

Catcher Wilson Ramos was considered a large chip until straining his left hamstring July 14, and weekend word that he isn't ready to play in a rehab game Monday as hoped impacts his value. Whether the Rays take less from a team willing to take a risk, or take their own gamble on making a waivers deal in August, remains to be seen. The Yankees, Nationals and Brewers have shown interest.

Having already shipped pitchers Nathan Eovaldi to Boston, Matt Andriese to Arizona and Jonny Venters to Atlanta, the Rays are open, if not eager, to also move (one way or another) free-agents-to-be shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, closer Sergio Romo and, if anyone's interested, outfielder Carlos Gomez.

"From what you see or what you hear, I think there's probably two, three guys left that are probably going to be shipped off,'' centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "We'll kind of just see what happens with the dialogue between our front office and other teams' front offices.

"Definitely nothing will surprise us at this point. A lot of movement, a lot of transition this whole year, from spring training to midseason to now especially. …

"I keep saying, that's the world we live in here with the Rays. With how things have been going for us (53-53) and how other teams in our division are doing, (that) makes you do certain things. Hopefully whatever happens we get a nice little return for whatever and prepare for the future in that sense.''

The wait becomes an issue for everyone.

"There's a lot of teams in our situation right now,'' manager Kevin Cash said before Sunday's game. "I know there's a lot of players, and one that everybody is going to talk about right now. … We're at the mercy as kind of what the front office decides and the industry decides, and we'll go from there.

"Chris Archer has done some good things for us. And he's proven he can be a very, very good starting pitcher in the American League. I know this season hasn't gone the way he wants.

"You'd hate to see (your team) lose a guy when there are a lot of things looking upward. I know it's tough to find those right now, the last two days. We like where we're trending, and Chris, in theory, should be a big part of that.''

Will he stay or will he go?

Archer, 29, insisted he's not going to let the awkwardness of the situation impact him too much.

"All day (Monday) I'm going to be occupied and I'm going to be with close family and friends, so I'm not going to be necessarily distracted, but I'm going to be doing other things,'' he said.

"There's enough technology out there that somebody will be able to get a hold of me. But I'm not going to pause my life to wait for a yes or a no.''

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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