Monday at baseball’s Winter Meetings has mostly come and gone, and the Milwaukee Brewers have yet to complete any transactions during the event. That’s not to say that GM David Stearns and company haven’t been putting any work in, however. Most of the talk surrounding the Brewers since the offseason started has revolved around their need to supplement their pitching depth, and this evening a report has placed the club among the suitors for arguably the top available arm.
From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
The has also been the predictable heavy interest in [Chris] Archer, with the Braves, Brewers and Twins joining the field that already includes the Cubs and Cardinals. As an exec with a competing club said when asked how many teams were in on Archer, "Who wouldn't be?"
There’s been plenty of speculation about a possible match between Tampa Bay and Milwaukee on an Archer deal, including here on BCB, The Sporting News, on MLB Network, the Boston Globe, and on MLB.com. Topkin’s report justifies all the conjecture, listing Milwaukee as one of five teams with known interest in the Rays’ ace. Topkin postured in a separate post that division rival New York’s acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten the dismantling of Tampa Bay’s roster.
Chris Archer, 29, has spent parts of the last six seasons pitching for Tampa Bay since debuting in 2012. He’s become one of the top pitchers in the American League, posting a 3.63 ERA/3.25 DRA/74 DRA- across 967.0 career innings for 21.7 WARP. Since finishing 3rd in rookie of the year voting in 2013, he’s posted four straight seasons of at least 190 innings, three straight seasons of 5+ WARP and a 70 DRA- or better, and finished 5th in Cy Young voting in 2015. Archer throws one of the hardest average fastballs among starters in the big leagues (95.8 MPH in 2017) and is one of the top strikeout pitchers in the American League.
Archer signed a contract extension back in 2014 that will pay him $13.75 mil over the next two seasons along with club options for 2020 at $9 mil ($1.75 mil buyout) and 2021 at $11 mil ($250K buyout). His excellent track record of both production and durability combined with his controllable, affordable nature makes Archer an extremely valuable commodity. Tampa Bay is therefore justified in seeking a significant return, especially with so many teams reportedly looking into acquiring him.
Earlier today David Stearns told reporters that given his team’s success in 2017 and the desire to keep moving forward "we’re at the point where I’m at least willing to consider” trading some of the young talent that he and Doug Melvin amassed during the club’s two-year rebuild. The Brewers are “definitely listening” to offers on outfielder Domingo Santana according to Tom Haudricourt, and earlier today Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted that the Brewers “are going to need an affordable impact starter who can eat innings in return” for the young slugger. Santana, who only recently turned 25, has four years of club control remaining and batted .278/.371/.505 with 30 homers and 15 steals in 2017. Chris Archer would seem to fit the bill in that case, though there has been no official report of Tampa Bay having interest in Santana. In terms of secondary pieces in a potential deal, Milwaukee’s farm system also compares favorably with the other clubs that are in pursuit of Archer.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus