Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer being overvalued on the market?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 15: Starter Chris Archer
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 15: Starter Chris Archer /
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Tampa Bay Rays
CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 15: Starter Chris Archer /

The Tampa Bay Rays are shopping their ace this offseason. Would he make a good Christmas gift, or is he being overpriced by the Rays?

It seems like Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer has been on the trade block nearly as soon as the ink dried on his extension signed with the team to buy out a number of his arbitration seasons. This offseason, however, the Rays seem to be actively listening on Archer, and there could be momentum to move him.

The trade proposals and rumored cost for Archer bandied about online seem to indicate teams assume that Archer is a cost-controlled ace, one of the top 10-15 pitchers in all of the game. While he has shown well with certain metrics that would indicate such things, he has some very interesting comparisons to two pitchers that most people wouldn’t be offering near the same value in trade to the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire him.

The issue at hand

The reason that many of these discussions come to play is because Archer has consistently posted FIP and xFIP numbers better than his ERA numbers. For his career, Archer has a 3.63 ERA, 3.46 FIP, and a 3.43 xFIP. He’s posted 16.2 fWAR over the last four seasons, which places him 12th over the last four seasons among qualified pitchers.

However, things change if you look at bWAR, which is more of a reflection of what did happen on the field while fWAR takes some allowance for an “expected” home run rate and “expected” defense and gives some correction to what is viewed as “unlucky” home run rates. Per bWAR, Archer has 9.8 bWAR, and he’s ranked 37th over that same 4-year period.

That difference would be a significant difference in what would be viewed as a reasonable return in a trade for Archer. Is he the pitcher that is seen as one of the 10-15 best in the game, or is he more one of the 30-40 best pitchers in the game? That will make a big difference in his trade value.

First, let’s look at some concerns with just Archer alone.