Though his name has come up rather frequently in trade rumors this offseason, Rays starter Chris Archer says he’s spoken to GM Erik Neander about his future and expects to remain with the Rays in 2018, as he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
Archer has been one of the most consistent starters in the American League for several years now and has been Tampa Bay’s clear ace since David Price was dealt in 2014. The two-time All-Star has struggled a bit with run prevention over the past two years (a common problem for starters in the AL East), as he’s posted ERAs over 4.00 in two straight seasons. He displayed elite command in 2017, though, finishing with a 4.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranked sixth among MLB pitchers in 2017.
Archer’s future in Tampa (along with those of fellow starter Jake Odorizzi and closer Alex Colome) looked like it might be in doubt this winter as the Rays traded franchise player Evan Longoria to the Giants and saw Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison (neither of whom have signed elsewhere) become free agents. The idea of trading Archer never really made a ton of sense for a Tampa team that needs young players to outperform their salaries in order to compete. The 29-year-old starter is signed through 2019 with club options for 2020 and 2021, and even if the Rays keep him for the length of the deal and pick up both of those options, he’ll make an extremely reasonable $30.25 million over the remainder of the contract.
While his contract is so club-friendly and his performance so consistently impressive that the Rays theoretically could’ve gotten a ton of value back in exchange for him, there’s not really an obvious reason why they’d want to trade a starter in the middle of his prime when he’s locked up long-term and is absolutely affordable. With that said, Tampa has traded several talented, young starters who were controllable for multiple years in recent seasons, so the idea that they’d trade Archer was within the realm of possibilities. Since 2014, the Rays have traded Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Nate Karns, Drew Smyly, and Matt Moore, all of whom had multiple years remaining on their respective contracts when they were dealt.