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Report: Rays want more for Archer than what White Sox got for Sale

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

After seeing what the Chicago White Sox got in return for Chris Sale, the Tampa Bay Rays appear to be raising the price on their own ace.

Tampa Bay is reportedly asking teams interested in acquiring right-hander Chris Archer for a "massive" return, and one that would perhaps be even more than what the White Sox got for Sale, sources told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays' rationale in asking for the moon in Archer talks seems to be that the 28-year-old has more years of control remaining - including his option, Archer's under contract through 2021 - than Sale, who only has three years left. Sale was traded to Boston last week, and fetched the White Sox four promising young players in return, including baseball's No. 1 prospect in Yoan Moncada.

Archer doesn't have nearly the same track record as Sale, though, and is coming off the worst season of his five-year career that saw him take a major step back. After making his first All-Star team and finishing fifth in Cy Young voting in 2015, Archer's ERA ballooned to 4.02 and his WHIP rose above 1.2, while he also led all of baseball with 19 losses. Still, his strikeout numbers remained consistent - he struck out 233, his second straight 200-plus strikeout season - and he posted better numbers in the second half of 2016.

Given the thin free-agent pitching market, the Rays may be at an advantage in trade talks if they continue to push for a large return on Archer. Several teams with eyes on contention in 2017 are still searching for an impact rotation arm like Archer's, including the Houston Astros. Houston, however, reportedly balked at the White Sox high asking price for southpaw Jose Quintana, and might feel similarly about surrendering a boatload of prospects for Archer.

The Atlanta Braves, who looked at Sale and have a strong minor-league system, have been connected to Archer more than once during the offseason.

It's not known if any teams have engaged the Rays in talks about Archer of late.

Earlier this month, Rays president Matthew Silverman revealed the team would be open to trading both Archer and star third baseman Evan Longoria, noting that "no player is off the table in trade talks."

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