We’re approaching mid-November and that means the MLB Hot Stove is starting to heat up. Free agents, trade rumors, etc are starting to make headlines around your local teams as well as nationally. It wouldn’t be a Hot Stove season without the Rays rumors being tossed around, would it? This year, the names Evan Longoria and Chris Archer are coming up already with the Dodgers and Braves being the teams showing some interest.
Possibly some serious interest.
The Dodgers got bounced out of the NLCS by the eventual World Champion Cubs this year. A big contributor to their 2016 success was 31-year old, third baseman Justin Turner who is now a free agent. Turner, who has spent the last three seasons in LA, made $5.1M this season and put up some pretty solid numbers as an every day player in the Dodgers lineup. Turner set career highs in games played (151), home runs (27), RBI (90), and doubles (34). All numbers that were very similar to the season posted by Longoria for the last place Rays. While the Rays have already expressed their lack of interest in parting ways with the face of the franchise – President of baseball operations, Matt Silverman, said they’re “open to everything” having won just 68 games in 2016, their third losing season in a row and second under Kevin Cash.
While Longoria has said he loves the idea of being a “cornerstone” of a franchise and has never expressed any signs of wanting to leave the Rays – the right blockbuster offer might pry him away. Such a blockbuster offer would have to be one that quite literally shakes the ground at Tropicana Field, however. The Rays have Longo signed to a pretty friendly deal through 2023 where he’ll make upwards of $19.5M (2022) at the highest point. I’d wager LA tries to pay Turner who will, no doubt, still be much cheaper and a better value than trying to pry away Longoria and lose precious prospects in the process. The most attractive thing about Longoria is that, at 31 years old himself, he’s coming off a career year in many offensive categories including hitting a career-high 36 home runs.
The Braves need an ace.
Actually the Braves need a lot of things. But an ace would be a start. Chris Archer is on their radar and Atlanta GM, John Coppolella, has said of their need for starting pitching, “we need it badly.” However, Coppolella has also stated that if negotiations to bring in pitching, let alone an ace, get “crazy” then they’d just stand pat with the arms they have in house. That being said – the trade of Archer is much more likely than moving Longoria as the Rays have plenty of pitching depth. Archer, 28, is set to make $4.9M in 2017 and is in the middle of a contract that has him in Tampa through the 2019 before he becomes arbitration eligible. He’s also coming off a year in which he led the league in losses with 19 but had a very stellar second half of the year and finished among the league leaders in strikeouts (233 in 201 IP) once again.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network has said the Braves have already spoken to the Rays about Archer.
With Richie Shaffer seemingly taking longer than expected to be ready to play a full season at the MLB level – the Rays really don’t have anyone in house that could slide in and replace the production of Longoria not just at the plate but on the field and in the clubhouse. Chances are he stays put at least a few more years.
Brent Honeywell, on the other hand, could be on the fast track to the Majors. He hasn’t thrown a single pitch at AAA, yet, but he may not need much polishing there before he’s getting called up either mid-season for an injury/trade replacement or September and proves he’s ready. Along with the continued growth of Jacob Faria and Taylor Guerrieri and a healthy Alex Cobb – losing Archer wouldn’t be as big a hit as losing Longo.
It’s early and lot can happen between now and the Winter Meetings that take place December 5-8 in Maryland. For now we just sit back and speculate. Chances are both Longoria and Archer are suiting up in Port Charlotte come February. Until then – it’s rumors and nothing more.
Information in this article is courtesy of raysbaseball.com.