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MLB trade rumors: Rays must be overwhelmed to trade Chris Archer, per source

An update on Archer, who the Dodgers are pursuing.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are not deeming right-hander Chris Archer “untouchable” in talks but would have to be very motivated to deal him and receive a massive return, according to a major-league source. At this point, a deal involving Archer appears unlikely barring a massive offer, according to multiple league sources.

Tampa Bay has yet to receive any formal offers for Archer with the trade deadline just 11 days away, according to a source.

An ESPN report Thursday cited a rival executive in saying that there was a “70 percent” chance Archer is traded to the Dodgers before the deadline, with former Rays boss Andrew Friedman carrying his infatuation with the right-hander to the west coast.

A rival executive I spoke to Thursday night said that his club, one that is pursuing starting pitching, “didn’t see any hint” that the Rays were making Archer available. Another executive said he would “take the under” on the 70 percent estimate.

Los Angeles theoretically has the chips to make a significant offer for Archer, with Julio Urias on the major-league roster and six prospects (Cody Bellinger, Jose De Leon, Alex Verdugo, Grant Holmes and Cody Bellinger) among Baseball America’s ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball. It is currently unclear which mix of those players would be necessary for the Rays to part with Archer.

At this point, it appears the Dodgers will pursue Archer (and the Rays’ other available starters as backup options), but will have to be prepared to overpay for a player who the Rays have no motivation to move this summer.

The Rays are in prime position at this year’s deadline, as sellers with four controllable starting pitchers (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore and Drew Smyly) in a seller’s market. Tampa Bay is not in a rush to make deals, but is listening and could strike on an advantageous market for sellers. The club is currently in a holding pattern and is not close to a deal, sources say.

The Rays, like other clubs with controllable starters, would be smart to at least listen to offers on Archer considering the weak options available on this year’s trade market. The top options include pitchers like Rich Hill and Jeremy Hellickson, meaning that teams like the Rays and White Sox, who have both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, may receive above-market offers from contenders if they approach the deadline with open ears.

Archer, 27, is under team control through the 2021 season for a reasonable price (around $39 million). He will draw interest from many teams looking for starting pitching this year, despite posting the worst season of his career to this point (4.60 ERA in 21 starts).