It has become apparent these days that the whirlwind that is the MLB trade market has become truly a sellers market in every facet of the term. This next rumor does nothing if it does not prove that fact. On Wednesday night, Peter Gammons discussed a trade on MLB Network that was proposed by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow to the Rays regarding a potential trade for Chris Archer.
The offer was as follows: right-handed pitchers Francis Martes and David Paulino and outfielder Kyle Tucker plus two more prospects for Chris Archer. This deal would have given the Rays the top, second-best and fourth-best prospects in the Astros' organization according to MLB.com's assessment of their farm system. Each of the three also rank on the 2016 MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects list: Martes (29), Tucker (50) and Paulino (70). As previously stated the deal would have also included two other prospects. However Rays GM Matthew Silverman denied the deal saying that if he were to move Archer the deal would have to be better.
This rumor at the surface is solely that the Rays did not feel enticed enough to make a move. However, when you truly read between the lines you find some interesting tidbits.
The Astros who have been reported to be heavily involved in trade talks with the White Sox regarding a Jose Quintana trade, appeared to have abandoned that route, at least temporarily and flew to Tampa to discuss a deal for Archer. The White Sox have done well in trades revolving Chris Sale and Adam Eaton thus commencing their rebuild and they don't feel a pressure to rush into any other moves which has caused an uncomfortable waiting game between them and their potential partners, Astros included. This leaves the Astros who are a win-now team in a bad position considering they must take advantage of the window they have created.
This window exists with several young stars in Carlos Correa, George Springer and Ace Dallas Keuchel in their prime along with recent additions of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick. Although they have significantly improved their team, so have their competitors. The Red Sox added Chris Sale to a rotation that already included David Price and 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. The Astros must now add to their pitching staff in a big way as well, Luhnow knows that and that is why he has met with the Rays. But has this new speculation proved that the Astros are done playing the waiting game for Quintana?
Next, Houston offered three of their top four prospects plus two others and were still denied thus showing how much advantage the seller has, as well as shows how much the Rays value Archer. One thing that is certain is that young players under team control at a relatively decent cost have been and will always be in high demand at a premium cost. However, one can argue that the Astros were willing to pay that premium cost to acquire Chris Archer and were still turned down by the Rays. One would be wrong, the offer was not at a high enough premium for Silverman's liking as the Rays seem to be holding out for the inclusion of highly touted third basemen Alex Bregman who debuted for the Astros this season.
Perhaps the White Sox are waiting to hear Bregman's name discussed in talks regarding Quintana as well, which goes to show just how much power the seller has. One could argue that this deal is comparable to the deal the White Sox received for Chris Sale who is a more established pitcher than Chris Archer. Yet, consistent with the basic laws of supply and demand the Rays will ask the world for Archer until they receive it. The win-now Astros must pay the price in order to win a championship or move on to another deal.
It remains to be seen what will happen with this rumor and where Chris Archer or Jose Quintana will be traded or even if they will be traded at all. Nevertheless something stays true, reports like this one have so much more to offer than merely a denied trade offer.