As the Yankees look to put finishing touches on their roster for the 2018 season, they have checked in with a division rival on two of their best players. The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reports that the Yankees have reached out to the Tampa Bay Rays to check in on RHP Chris Archer and 3B Evan Longoria.
It’s no secret the Yankees would love another starting pitcher, especially a top-flight arm like Archer. The Yankees also have a hole at third base after trading Chase Headley back to San Diego. Both players would be interesting fits in the Bronx.
Archer would help upgrade the Yankees starting rotation without question. The 29-year-old pitched to a 4.07 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 11.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in a league-leading 34 starts for Tampa Bay. The ERA seems inflated, but his 42.0% ground ball rate would play perfectly in Yankee Stadium. Archer also would join a staff that already has Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, which would mean that he would not have to be the ace. He is owed just $14.08 million guaranteed for the next two seasons, with club options for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Longoria is more of a longshot to become a member of the Yankees. He has been the face of the Rays franchise for years, but 2017 was another year of decline for the 32-year-old. He slashed .261/.313/.424 with 20 home runs, and struck out at a respectable 16.1% rate. Advanced metrics indicate Longoria may have been unlucky, netting just a .282 BABIP rate. Longoria has been a Yankee killer, slashing .273/.347/.494 with 35 home runs and 104 RBIs in 168 games against the Bombers. He can still pick it at third base, checking in with +11 DRS and a +3.2 UZR at the hot corner in 2017. Longoria’s problem is his contract, where he is still owed $81 million guaranteed through the 2022 season. Brian Cashman would have to convince the Rays to eat some of that money before accepting a deal.
As the Yankees aim to get under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million for the 2018 season, they could upgrade their team by trading with Tampa Bay. Chris Archer would fit perfectly, while Evan Longoria would require further maneuvering of contracts (could Cashman salary dump Jacoby Ellsbury on the Rays?). There is no indication that a deal is in the works between the two American League East teams. But, Rays’ general manager Erik Neander has apparently said he “isn’t philosophically opposed to trading with other AL East teams,” per Topkin’s column.