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The Yankees are interested in Chris Archer, who might not even be on the market

The pitching market is dire, but that doesn’t mean teams aren’t asking.

Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With the exception of Manny Machado (and to a lesser extent Brad Hand) this trade deadline has been a bit of a snoozer so far. Between injuries (or diseases only children get) pulling some top players off the market and the asking price for rentals seemingly sky-high, big rumors are few and far between. But there are still some out there to parse.

The rumor

The New York Yankees are reportedly kicking the tires on Rays pitcher Chris Archer, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Rays aren’t committed to dealing him right now so this might be a rumor just to rumor, but that’s fun too. They’re not the only ones asking about his availability, but if anyone needs pitching right now it’s the Yankees. If anyone is willing to make a surprise move to get it, they’d be right at the top of that list as well.

Why it makes sense for the Rays to trade Chris Archer to the Yankees

The Rays are out of it for this year, that’s for sure. With the Red Sox and Yankees battling it out at the top of the division and a wide gap between them and the second Wild Card spot, this is a lost year. So the question to ask about whether it’s worth it to trade Archer isn’t so much about this year but how much longer they might be stuck in this same spot.

Archer is signed for three more seasons after this one for only $27.5 million combined. That’s great value for a pitcher who, until this year, never had an ERA+ below 100 when pitching a full season. Even this year he’s at a respectable 4.30 ERA with a 92 ERA+, a 3.50 WHIP, and 9.9 SO/9, despite missing time with an abdominal injury.

While decent, those numbers aren’t going to get the Rays the return they are probably hoping for. Especially not from a team like the Yankees who are 1. a division rival who would most likely have to give up even more to make the trade worth it for Tampa Bay and 2. a team that has shown they won’t give up major assets unless it’s for a true gem in this market.

The Rays would have to be very sure that their rebuild is projected to last longer than Archer’s contract runs — and that any return would absolutely be a help in that rebuild — for this to be worth it.

Why it makes sense for the Yankees to trade for Chris Archer

He’s a pitcher, and they need pitching so badly they’re one step away from trying to spirit one away from another team by luring them out of a locker room with beef jerky and a promise of a good sports massage in the seventh inning of a game in New York.

With Sonny Gray continuing to struggle on the mound, putting New York in a position to possibly trade for not one more multiple starting pitchers, they are one of multiple top teams in the American League who are hunting for pitching in a market where top talent in that area is either nonexistent or unavailable.

Trading for Chris Archer makes sense without context for the Yankees, in that he’d be a reliable addition to their rotation, but to pry someone under an affordable contract from a division team would mean giving up assets that the Yankees appear to want to avoid parting with at this time. The face off between teams who have assets but don’t want to give them up to buy and teams who want to sell but only for top or near-top assets continues.

Rumor grade

C-. If the Rays do this right, they’d need to ask for a lot from the Yankees. The last thing they want to see is Archer go on to succeed for a division team for multiple years — and possibly continue to prevent them from being true contenders should their rebuild even give them a chance to compete with the current AL East beasts.

This doesn’t look like a 2018 trade, but if the Rays look like this next year and Archer’s dissatisfaction in being on a struggling team with no shot at the playoffs continues, then the price might drop ever so slightly and make it a more realistic deal for pitching buyers at this time next season.