Archer, 29, has been on the shelf since June 3 due to an abdominal strain. While the injury originally wasn’t expected to result in an absence of this length, Archer’s rehab was slowed along the way as the Rays exercised some caution in easing him back into the mix. He’ll rejoin a Rays staff that features Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi in traditional starting roles, plus, of course, several relievers working in more unconventional hybrid roles (e.g. Ryne Stanek, Ryan Yarbrough).
Through 76 1/3 innings this season, Archer is sitting on a 4.24 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate. While those numbers don’t immediately stand out, Archer’s overall line is still being dragged down by a slow start to the season. However, after posting a near-8.00 ERA through his first four outings, Archer largely rounded into form, tossing 55 2/3 innings of 2.91 ERA ball over his next nine outings before landing on the disabled list.
As ever, Archer’s name figures to be prominently featured on the rumor mill so long as he’s healthy and reasonably effective moving forward — and perhaps more than ever before if he’s able to continue where he left off in terms of performance prior to his DL stint. Archer is on one of the game’s friendlier pitching contracts, as he’s controlled through 2021 at a combined total of $30.29MM (including the remaining $2.79MM on this season’s $6.25MM salary). That’s a reasonable enough price as it is, but the value is enhanced further by the fact that the final two seasons of control come in the form of club options, granting the Rays or any acquiring a team a means of escaping the deal should Archer sustain any type of severe injury.
It’s not clear just how seriously the Rays will entertain the idea of trading Archer, though at 16 games back in the AL East and 11 games out of a Wild Card spot (despite a perhaps surprisingly solid 45-44 record on the season), it stands to reason that they’ll be selling off at least some pieces. Wilson Ramos and Eovaldi are widely expected to be dealt over the next few weeks, while Alex Colome and Denard Span were already traded more than a month ago. Several other Tampa Bay veterans figure to be on the block between now and the end of trading season, though Archer would likely require the greatest haul of any player the Rays will conceivably market to other clubs.