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Rays GM Erik Neander says Chris Archer is the type of player his team needs to build around

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Rays starter Chris Archer‘s name is bound to come up in trade rumors throughout the offseason. He’s 29 years old and will cost a relatively meager $13.75 million over the next two seasons combined, and he has two club options for the 2020-21 seasons as well, worth a combined $20 million.

GM Erik Neander realizes this. On MLB Network Radio, he said the front office is respectful of phone calls that come in asking about Archer, but said that the right-hander is “exactly the type of player that we need to have … to have a chance to win.” He added that Archer is the type of player the Rays need to build around.

Archer finished the 2017 season with a 4.07 ERA and a 249/60 K/BB ratio across 201 innings. He’s had a four-plus ERA in each of the last two seasons. However, among his five full seasons, Archer posted his best strikeout and walk rates — 29.2 percent and seven percent, respectively — in 2017, suggesting that his best years may lie ahead of him.

The small-market Rays, though, are no strangers to unloading a prized player. Perhaps most famously, the club sent lefty David Price to the Tigers ahead of the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline. It is sadly a reality for many small-market teams that they need to recoup value on their players sooner rather than later because they don’t have the same financial muscle to retain players that other teams have.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.