It’s been an arduous road for Chris Archer since the 2018 trade deadline. Archer, a flamethrowing righty with a nasty swipe on his slider, was originally dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Matt Garza deal in 2011. It was his second trade, as the Cubs had originally acquired him from the Indians for Mark DeRosa. Archer made his MLB debut in 2012, and from 2012 to 2018 he was a multi-time All-Star with a 3.63 ERA in 160 starts. His 54 wins as a Ray is fourth on the franchise leaderboard. He is second on the all-time franchise leaderboard in Ks at 1,146, only behind James Shields’ 1,250.
The Rays traded him with multiple years left on his deal for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz. Meadows was an All-Star in 2019 and both were a major part of their core on the ride to the World Series in 2020.
For the Pirates, the deal was not so favorable. Archer was rather pedestrian, posting a 4.92 ERA as a Pirate before undergoing surgery to relieve him of thoracic outlet syndrome. The Pirates declined his option.
Let’s be honest: Archer isn’t the same pitcher they had and the pitcher they had previously wasn’t a true ace outside of one year. Archer is the franchise’s leader in wild pitches, while consistently struggling with command on his breaking pitchers. Focused on the strikeout, he walked too many as opposed to pitching to contact. Then, we he’d have to throw a strike, he’d place one down the middle to get tattooed over the fence and see the team in an early deficit. He’s averaged over one homerun per nine innings of work over the course of his career. Yet, when Archer is on, it’s hard to find somebody better. Archer finished top five in Cy Young voting in 2015.
Yet, there’s no such thing as a bad one year contract. This gives Tampa Bay much needed rotation depth, the fanbase somebody to attach themselves to and bring out their old jerseys, while seeing if Archer has anything left in the tank. If Archer can return to prominence, he’s a solid number three starter at this point in his career.