If You’re Still Dreaming About Chris Archer, You Might Want to Wake Up

When talk of cost-controlled starting pitchers comes up, Chris Archer’s name inevitably finds itself gracing the lips of those having the conversation. And Cubs fans, as they’re wont to do, have been taking aim at Archer in pipe-dream trade scenarios since their team traded him away in the Matt Garza deal. Oh, how we all wish for a do-over on that one. Then again, that could be something of a Monkey’s Paw wish.

It’s not exactly using a time machine, but the Rays have made no secret about the availability of their starting pitchers. Surely the current Cubs regime would be willing to see what it would take to atone for the sin(s) of the previous one, right? And with the Red Sox and Yankees both making big splashes this winter, maybe Tampa would be willing to accept a discounted price on their arms. Sounds cool, but it ain’t happening.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are “seeking massive returns” on pretty much everyone. He goes on to report that the scuttlebutt around the Winter Meetings was that the Rays want more for Archer than what the White Sox got for Chris Sale. While the additional control — five years for Archer vs. three for Sale — is appealing, that’s a whopper of a price tag.

You’re talking about a number of top prospects/MLB-ready players, an ask I can’t the Cubs would be willing to answer at this point. Regardless of the outlook for this season, the Rays don’t need to deal from desperation. Given the cheap control they’ll continue to enjoy with Archer, they can hold out for the perfect offer. Which brings us to another question, that of Jorge Soler’s role — or lack thereof — in this matter.

On one hand, you could look at the asking price for Archer and lament the fact that the Cubs sent Soler to KC in exchange for a rental closer. And that’s fair, I guess. Soler clearly profiled better for an AL team and could have been a big part of the Cubs’ offer.

On the other hand, we could look at all the rumors of talks between the Rays and Cubs over the past couple years and discern that either A) Soler didn’t hold much value for Tampa, or B) the cost even with the big Cuban outfielder was so great that it didn’t make sense. Or maybe it’s both. Either way, the reality of the situation is that the Cubs aren’t going to be trading for Chris Archer. Not yet, anyway.

Given all those years of control, the young starter will be a desirable commodity for some time to come. And the Cubs’ performance, not to mention their development of arms and their negotiations with Jake Arrieta, will determine their need and budget for a starting pitcher. I just don’t see Archer as a guy who single-handedly satisfies the the goal of being consistently competitive, especially when you weigh his impact against that of the collective you’d have to sacrifice to get him.

I’m not going to tell you to stop dreaming about Archer’s sweet ‘fro puffing out from beneath a Cubs cap, but I wanted to let you know that your alarm’s about to go off. Of course, you can always hit snooze as many times as you like.

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