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Report: Cardinals interested in Chris Archer

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Discussions between the Cardinals and Rays have “centered on Chris Archer,” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nothing appears to be imminent, and it’s worth noting that trade talks between the two sides fizzled out last month. Still, as club president John Mozeliak suggested Saturday, the Cardinals haven’t completely ruled out additional upgrades as they prepare for the upcoming season.

The 29-year-old Archer has drawn considerable interest around the league following a strong performance in 2017. The Rays’ ace went 10-12 in 34 starts, earning his second All-Star nomination with a 4.07 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.1 SO/9 in 201 innings. In September, a brief bout of forearm tightness raised some concerns about his durability, but no major structural damage was revealed and it seems unlikely that he’ll be plagued by the injury again in 2018.

The Cardinals may not have a strong need for another starting pitcher, as they’re currently poised to enter the 2018 season with a rotation featuring Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and newcomer Miles Mikolas. There’s no question that a starter of Archer’s caliber would help them gain an edge over the rival Cubs, however, especially as Lance Lynn has already flown the coop, Alex Reyes is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and Mikolas has yet to prove that he can duplicate the 2.25 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 he posted in NPB last year.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.