Houston Astros: More likely target Chris Archer vs. Chris Sale

Which Chris would you rather the Houston Astros trade for? Archer vs. Sale.

We are a few weeks away from the Winter Meetings, and the Houston Astros must be aggressive. Jeff Luhnow appeared on Astroline last night and predicted that there would be one or two moves before the Winter Meetings. It seems that most of the rumors out there are centered around adding a big bat. But, Luhnow made mention that they were looking for more pitching.

Even though I still believe the Astros are a serious player for Edwin Encarnacion, this doesn’t help the rotation that sprung some leaks in 2016. While they have two players who could be categorized as an ace in Dallas Keuchel or Lance McCullers, they could use another top of the rotation pitcher.

The Cubs have three starting pitchers who could be classified a top of the rotation pitcher. The Indians rode the arm of Cory Kluber to the World Series. However, the rest of the rotation is fairly deep when healthy. You can never have too many starting pitchers, as the Astros learned last year when they trade Scott Feldman and the injuries hit.

Projected 2017 rotation.

Keuchel

Collin McHugh

McCullers

Joseph Musgrove

Mike Fiers/Chris Devenski

As you scout the free agent starting pitcher list, besides Rich Hill and Ivan Nova, there are not too many options better than Fiers or Devenski. I wrote about Zack Greinke but came to the conclusion that he would be too expensive. With the additions the Braves have made, I’m not sure they will trade Julio Teheran. As much as I would like Jose Quintana, the White Sox may not trade him.

Two names that seem to come up when talking about the Houston Astros rotation is Chris Sale or Chris Archer. While most people think that Sale is the best pitcher of the two, they believe that Archer will be the most attainable player. The talk has been, if you want Sale, you must give up Alex Bregman and Musgrove. If you want Archer, though, you don’t have to give up that much.

Archer would cost more!

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has a different argument. He believes that Archer should cost more on the trade market. Wait, say that again? Sale has been one of the most consistent aces over his career while Archer struggled in 2016. Sullivan argues that Sale is viewed as the better pitcher with his 16.6 WAR since 2014 versus Archer’s 11.5 WAR.

Sullivan wrote that Sale is under team control for three years for under $39 million, but Archer is under team control for five years at about the same salary. Archer is projected to be worth more than Sale during the three years that Sale is under team control, plus the extra two seasons on top of it.

In other words, Sale could be on sale for cheaper than Archer would. With the way the Astros value analytics, they probably value Archer more with team control. If they are to trade an arm or a leg for a pitcher, they would rather trade for the one who would be around longer. For 2017, Sale would probably have the most impact, picture Randy Johnson in 1997.

Neither is the likely choice for the Astros.

It is very likely that neither pitcher is traded because of the cost it would take to acquire them. Should the Astros acquire Brian McCann, this might take them out of the picture for Archer or Sale. This could be the reason why we have not seen too much progress in the McCann trade. The Stros could be wanting to save the bigger prospects for a pitcher.

Mark my words, adding Archer or Sale would elevate the Houston Astros chances of making the playoffs. The decision to be made is if the two pitchers would be worth the price paid for them. Sale would be the safer choice with a proven track record. Get Archer out of the albatross that is the Rays organization. He could blossom. Don’t know if Luhnow has the guns for this type of acquisition.

***Stats and salary from Baseball-Reference***

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