According to reports from Ken Rosenthal, David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers are still interested in Chris Archer of the Tampa Rays. Archer has been the subject of much speculation this off season due to his four years of control remaining (at about $34m) and the seeming willingness of the Rays to deal established players and begin a rebuild.
Sources: #Brewers, casting wide net for SP, have had recent contact with #Rays on Archer. Deal would appear unlikely. TB might not view Santana or Phillips as enough of a centerpiece for a controllable ace. MIL might not want to cut deeper into its farm system after Yelich trade.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 1, 2018
MLB Trade Rumors confirmed the continued interest from Milwaukee:
And Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times joined Rosenthal in analyzing how likely this is:
Makes sense #Brewers would ask, makes sense #Rays would say no. #Rays have been steadfast in seeking massive return for Archer with 4 years of control at $34M, and no need to deal without it. https://t.co/Nxc1tmkbLm— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) February 1, 2018
So what does this mean, potentially, for the Brewers’ rotation?
It would seem unlikely at this point that Tampa believes the Brewers have enough talent available (after their acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami) to offer enough to acquire Archer. This could be posturing on the part of the Rays, but it really makes little sense for the Rays to trade Archer now unless they are blown away with a deal.
Tampa has time on their side, and if they truly want to deal Archer (and they don’t contend in the talent-heavy AL East this season), they can simply wait until the deadline this season and extort a haul from a contending team.
From the Brewers viewpoint, they are in no hurry to send Domingo Santana away unless he brings an optimum return. His value wouldn’t appear to be a lot better than Khris Davis’ was prior to his departure to Oakland, and that isn’t enough to move Santana. Domingo can spend another year in Milwaukee, and will get at a minimum 400 plate appearances as the Brewers work their outfield depth to give rest to veterans Ryan Braun and recent signee Lorenzo Cain. Indeed, Braun is going to get work this spring at first base (one hopes he’s been taking groundballs all winter) to also open some time in the outfield for Santana and even prospect Brett Phillips.
So due diligence on the part of the Brewers; you don’t want to miss out on a potential plus addition to the rotation if Archer is available. But you don’t want to strip away too many assets when it is possible to sign a starting pitcher that will cost money (lots of money) rather than current players or prospects. All of the top starting pitchers are still available in free agency.