If the Yankees are still mulling over the state of their starting rotation — and Luis Severino’s midsummer woes have only created more panic — perhaps general manager Brian Cashman is going to make one last push for a top-flight arm on the market.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Jim Bowden, the Yankees are among three teams vying for Rays’ right-hander Chris Archer, who could be dealt ahead of the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers and Padres are also in the mix for the 29-year-old.
Although the Yankees reportedly fear that Tampa Bay won’t trade Archer within the American League East, Rosenthal expects the Rays to accept the best offer presented, if they ultimately choose to part ways with him. After all, intra-division trades are no longer a rare occurence — three have transpired this week alone (Yankees acquired Orioles’ reliever Zach Britton on Tuesday, Blue Jays’ starter J.A. Happ on Thursday; Red Sox acquired Rays’ starter Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday).
In 17 starts this season, Archer, who missed nearly all of June with a left abdominal strain, is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 9.6 SO/9. He took the loss in Friday’s game against the Orioles (6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO), but since May 17, Archer has a 2.70 ERA in eight starts. His 3.62 FIP and 102 strikeouts in 96 innings also suggest he’s dealt with some bad luck this year.
Archer has demonstrated his ability as an ace-caliber pitcher in the AL East. And that quality — plus his club friendly contract — means the Rays will most likely demand a steep prospect package in return. According to Spotrac.com, Archer is under team control through the 2021 season, and in 2019, he will make $7.5 million. In both 2020 and 2021, there are club options for $8.25 million.
While the Yankees want to further increase their odds of winning a championship in 2018, one of their other goals is to remain under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. The acquisitions of Britton and Happ have created less wiggle room.