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The Tampa Bay Rays are eyeing a reunion with Chris Archer, which would be the ultimate slap in the face to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After losing Charlie Morton in free agency, the Tampa Bay Rays are looking toward a familiar face as a starting rotation option. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the 2020 AL pennant winners have discussed a possible reunion with Chris Archer.
Archer missed the entire 2020 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. The Pirates inevitably declined his $11 million option for 2021, making him a free agent.
At the 2018 trade deadline, the Pirates acquired Archer from the Rays for right-hander Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows and prospect Shane Baz. Archer posted a 4.30 ERA over 10 starts for the Pirates over the rest of that season, and followed with a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts (119.2 innings) for them in 2019.
Chris Archer back to the Rays would be slap in the face to the Pirates
As Archer struggled in Pittsburgh, the Rays reaped rewards of the trade. Glasnow has posted a 3.32 ERA with a 12.0 K/9 over 34 starts for the Rays. In 2019, Meadows hit 33 home runs and drove in 89 with a .922 OPS. A case of COVID-19 that cut short his summer camp and a lingering oblique issue limited him last season, but at 25 years old (26 in May) he’s still a budding star. Baz hasn’t made it to the big leagues yet, but Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the No. 30 prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2020 season
During the peak of his time with the Rays, Archer always seemed like a better pitcher than the raw results showed. That said, he had a 3.69 ERA (3.43 FIP) with a 9.7 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 over 1,063 total innings for Tampa Bay. He made more than 30 starts in four straight seasons (2014-2017), topping 200 innings in the last three of those with two All-Star selections over that span (2015 and 2017). Even in his time with Pittsburgh, Archer’s K/9 (10.6) and BB/9 (3.8) rates were good and hardly disastrous respectively.
Simply bringing Archer back would be plenty enough of an insult. But if the Rays bring him back and coax the best out of him, that would be a real slap in the face to the Pirates after the fleecing they took in the trade two years ago.