Trading for Rays stud would be ideal for Yankees if not for this

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Here at Tropicana Field, you’ll find a starting pitcher who would generate some Bronx buzz. Whom you could envision starting a postseason series’ Game 3, at the worst.

Now all the Yankees have to do is overcome 20 years of virtual inactivity between themselves and the Rays to put Chris Archer in pinstripes.

Two Yankees scouts, Ronnie Merrill and Hadi Raad, watched Archer strike out 13 Marlins and walk none over six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) Sunday at Tropicana Field. They of course were not alone. Among the other teams represented were the Braves, Brewers and Diamondbacks, all of whom are in the race and could use another starting pitcher.

So it’ll take a lot to get the 29-year-old, who signed an extension with the small-market Rays that keeps him under team control through 2021. And the Yankees should consider giving up a lot for a guy who owns a track record of durability and who doesn’t hide from the media.

“I want to do whatever makes our team better,” Archer said Monday before the Rays and Yankees began a three-game series at the Trop. “Whatever gives our team the best chance to make the playoffs this year, next year and the rest of my contract.”

Ah, the old, “If it’s best for the franchise to rebuild with the return I bring back in a trade, then I will soldier on” line. Strong. Archer added later: “Do I want to be here? Without a doubt.” Yet having grown up in the American League East, he has lived the difficulty of succeeding in this baseball neighborhood with a significant financial disadvantage.

Even though the field of available starting pitchers remains underwhelming, the Yankees and Rays don’t appear to be heavily engaged on Archer. The Rays are celebrating their 20th anniversary season, and since they entered the AL in 1998, the two clubs have completed a mere three transactions of note:

1) In 2000, the Rays awarded Jose Canseco to the Yankees on a waiver claim.

2) In 2016, the Yankees sold veteran catcher Carlos Corporan to the Rays.

3) This past February, the Yankees, Rays and Diamondbacks agreed to the three-team trade that made Brandon Drury a Yankee and Steven Souza Jr. a Diamondback. One player, second baseman/outfielder Nick Solak, changed hands between the rivals, going from the Yankees’ minor league system to the Rays’.

And they are rivals of special note, have no doubt. If it doesn’t quite mirror the Yankees and Mets competing for dollars in the New York area, the Yankees, by virtue of their spending February and March in Tampa and the late George Steinbrenner’s deep community ties to the Tampa Bay area, carry a special presence that has to influence the Rays’ willingness to do business with a team with whom they also contend annually for a division title.

Archer began his career in stellar fashion, garnering AL Rookie of the Year support in 2013 and Cy Young Award votes in 2015, and has regressed to solid, with a 4.30 ERA and 3.50 FIP this year. Nevertheless, the man historically gets out there, tallying 200-plus innings from 2015 through 2017, which makes you more forgiving of the month-plus he recently missed with a left abdominal strain. CC Sabathia could help the media-friendly Archer navigate the transition from small market to big.

Oh, and Archer’s dreadlocks? He smiled at The Post’s question about getting traded to a team owning a policy against long hair.

“I’ll cross that bridge whenever necessary,” he said.

At the moment, you’d bet against the Yankees and Rays crossing bridges to find common ground on Archer, or even on old pal Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees should give it a good try, though. Like when the Cubs acquired Jose Quintana from the special-rival White Sox last year, Archer’s contract ($6.4 million this year, $7.7 million next year and team options for $9 million and $11 million in 2020 and 2021) make him a payroll bargain, even if he doesn’t climb back to ace status.

The Cubs gave up two top prospects and two other minor leaguers to get Quintana. For Archer, who’s Quintana Lite, how about one top prospect, one second-tier prospect and two other minor leaguers? Throw in the Yankees letting the Rays borrow Steinbrenner Field for employee weddings and bar mitzvahs, and we might just have a thaw in this relationship.

Source: Read Full Article