St. Louis Cardinals: Trade for Archer if the Price is Right
The St. Louis Cardinals are well-positioned to acquire talent for this year and the next few years with a stacked minor league system and promising young players in the majors. The Cardinals should bolster their team now and for the future by acquiring Chris Archer.
Recent reports indicate that trade talks involving Chris Archer are intensifying. The St. Louis Cardinals, of course, have shown interest in the Tampa Bay Ray’s ace in the past, and are rumored to still be interested. They should be, because Archer can be controlled through 2021, through option years, for less than $8 million per season. The time for a deal is now.
Before we discuss the “why” and the “who” of a potential Archer-St. Louis Cardinals deal, it is important to identify the “what” – as in, what are the Cardinals getting?
It is not controversial to say that Archer is no longer a true ace, or number 1 starter. That said, he is at least a solid number 2/3 starter, and at his best he is a lot like Carlos Martinez – a 1a type of option.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think Chris Archer is better than Carlos Martinez. He’s not. That said, his peripheral stats paint a far better picture than his actual numbers (if you know me, you know that I care more about the actual numbers but the statistics are informative).
While Archer is sporting a 4.31 ERA, his FIP sits at 3.62, showing that his numbers might be suffering from some bad luck. Encouragingly, his strikeouts per nine are sitting at 9.6 this year, and they were 11.1 last year. His career average in K/9 is 9.7. That’s really good.
Archer’s career ERA+ is 106, which leaves much to be desired (note that Lance Lynn has a career ERA+ of 110, and averaged 114 with St. Louis). But, Archer is only 29, he has shown flashes of ace-stuff and potential, and the guy pitches a ton of innings – averaging 203 innings per season while striking out nearly 10 people per nine innings. In other words, he is more workhorse and strikeout monster than he is ace. But that is precisely what the St. Louis Cardinals need.
Listen, we all know the bullpen is awful, and that it is going to take some major work to fix it – work that will likely be done in the next off-season (and that could be aided by old friends Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal). But, one way to immediately fix the bullpen is to acquire a starting pitcher that consistently pitches into the sixth or seventh inning. That guy is Archer (and Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard – who the St. Louis Cardinals should be aggressively trying to acquire).
We have discussed some of the statistics which show that Archer is not an ace. Is that a reason to not acquire him? No. That is a reason to discount the price TO acquire him. So let’s take a look at what it might take to get a deal done.
What should the St. Louis Cardinals Pay to Acquire Archer?
The starting place for a deal for Archer must include Carson Kelly. The Rays need catching prospects and Kelly could meet that demand. A package centered around the stud backstop prospect makes sense. The Rays will also want a young starter and probably an outfielder. The St. Louis Cardinals can make all of that happen. But, Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver should all be off limits because they are all likely better than Archer (and cheaper).
But, someone like a Ryan Helsley – the St. Louis Cardinals number five overall prospect, or Junior Fernandez/Jake Woodford would make sense as the headlining pitcher. Then, the Cardinals could give up one of their young outfielders: Oscar Mercado or Jonatan Machado should whet the appetite of the Rays.
Those three players and maybe one lower level pitching prospect is the absolute puke point for acquiring Archer. If the deal costs more than that, the Cardinals should say no. If the deal costs that or less, then the team should jump on it immediately.
I do not think the team would need to give up Tyler O’Neill or Harrison Bader, but due to the organizational depth at outfield, I would be fine with departing with either one of those guys for Archer.
Should the St. Louis Cardinals Even be Buying a Starter?
All indications are that the St. Louis Cardinals are selling. They are selling short-term assets and relievers that have not panned out (RIP Sam Tuivailala). That said, the Cardinals are, and should, be interested in acquiring long-term assets because this team should be poised to compete as soon as next year (and this year if they went on some crazy run – not likely).
Thus, the St. Louis Cardinals should unclog the roster by listening on certain players (looking at you Bud Norris), and should also be aggressive in acquiring high-level, controllable assets such as Archer, deGrom and/or Syndergaard. That means the Cardinals should be both buying and selling.
The names rumored to be interested in Chris Archer are the San Diego Padres, the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Brewers, among others. The St. Louis Cardinals can make as competitive an offer as any of these teams and they should do so immediately.
What do you think? Should the St. Louis Cardinals trade for Archer now? Should they aim their sights higher to a deGrom or Syndergaard? Leave a comment on Twitter and let’s figure this out!