The San Diego Padres are reportedly flirting with the Tamp Bay Rays in regards to RHP Chris Archer. Let us explore the possibility of a deal and the ramifications of it to the San Diego Padres.
Recently rumors have been swirling that the Padres could be in the market for an ace-type pitcher via trade.
When we’re talking about a team that hasn’t shown any significant signs of being able to contend next season, the Padres are a somewhat surprising team to see interested in such high-profile pitchers. Nonetheless, the team is certainly interested in acquiring someone to lead their pitching staff, as Jon Morosi reported:
Say what you want about the rumors, or whether the Padres have any business going after a pitcher that would require giving up some significant prospects for. If the team is really going to pursue this kind of a trade, we’d best try and see for ourselves whether giving up a few prospects for Chris Archer is going to be worth it. Let’s come up with a realistic, theoretical scenario in which the Padres acquired Archer from the Rays. We’re going to use the report above as the primary source for our projection of the trade, so let’s assume the Padres are going to trade three prospects straight-up for Archer.
The three prospects mentioned by Morosi are Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and Cal Quantrill. It sounds like two of them would probably have to be moved for the Rays to agree to a trade for Archer. Obviously we have no real clue of whom the Padres might trade if given the choice to give up two of the three players mentioned. So let’s just explore the most likely scenario based on the high asking price being rumored for Archer. Mejia and Urias are more highly touted than Quantrill, so let’s assume they’re the headliners in the deal. The third prospect included in the trade will be a player to be named later — Probably a rookie ball guy who has performed well and is just a good depth piece the Rays would want to finish off the deal.
Per @jonmorosi, #Padres among the teams interested in #Rays‘ Chris Archer and have refused to include Tatis Jr. or Gore in initial offers, but are believed to be willing to part with one or two of the next three prospects on their top 30 list: https://t.co/eosjpYq3sj pic.twitter.com/kFVaspN7aQ
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 25, 2018
Scenario: Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and player to be named later in exchange for Chris Archer
In this situation, the Padres would be giving up at least two position players controllable for up to six years in the major leagues. Hopefully they’d be getting an ace in Chris Archer in return, though. The first step is to project the performances of Mejia and Urias during the first six years of their careers. Let’s turn to Chris Mitchell’s KATOH projection system on Fangraphs, who in February came out with a ranking of the top 100 baseball prospects. His list ranks prospects by their projected WAR totals during their first six seasons in the major leagues, which is exactly what we are trying to project! Take a look at how Mejia and Urias were ranked and projected:
|Player||Rank on List||Projected WAR|
According to the projections by Mitchell, the Padres would be trading 14.4 WAR combined between Mejia and Urias. They’d also be giving up a younger lower-level prospect, that has to be taken into account as well. Of course we also need to see how much value Chris Archer could put up for the Padres if they acquired him. If the Padres were to trade for him before he makes his next start, he’d probably make nine or ten starts for the team through the end of the season. More likely, he makes nine because the Rays will perhaps want to hold him until closer to the deadline, meaning he’d start another game for them.
Archer has been worth 1.7 WAR this season according to Fangraphs in his sixteen starts. Assuming he continues to pitch at the same level for nine more starts, he’d produce 0.9 WAR the rest of the season for San Diego. He will turn thirty on September 26th, so he’s not exactly in his prime as a pitcher anymore. Even with that in mind we’re going to be generous and say that working with Darren Balsley and no longer pitching in the AL East division will allow him to pitch at the same level as he enters his thirties. Take a look at how he would project to produce if he pitches like he has this season:
He is only under contract through the 2021 season, so his projection only includes four seasons during which he’d be guaranteed to be playing for the Padres. What you’ll find though, is that Archer only projects to produce 8.7 WAR while he’s with San Diego. Considering that he’d be outproduced by the youngsters being given up for him by 5.7 WAR, it seems like this is the kind of a deal GM A.J. Preller should be reconsidering.
There are a lot of young talented prospects in the Padres’ system worth holding onto. Maybe a trade could be made in which less talented prospects were given up — That is the kind of a situation when Preller would do well to acquire an ace kind of pitcher. Yet if the asking price on a pitcher like Archer is this high, the Padres would do best to hold onto their prized youngsters. It’s nice to have a strong starting pitcher like Chris Archer, and that’s something nobody will deny. What isn’t so nice, is when you give up too much to get that flashy ‘ace.’ Doing so is not something the Padres should be interested in.