The 32-year-old’s last big-league action came in 2019 when he went 3-9 with a 5.19 ERA/5.02 FIP in 119 2/3 innings over 23 starts with 10.8 K/9 to 4.1 BB/9. The Pirates hoped Archer could anchor their rotation, but a 0.8 rWAR season wasn’t enough to make an substantive impact for the Buccos.
Declining Archer’s option likely means the end of a disappointing era in Pittsburgh. Much was heaped onto Archer’s shoulders after being acquired from the Rays for soon-to-be stars Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and prospect Shane Baz. The 2018 deadline deal was doomed from the start, as Glasnow by himself arguably outperformed Archer down the stretch in that season alone with 0.6 rWAR to Archer’s 0.5 rWAR. Add in the years of control the Rays have for Glasnow, Meadows, and Baz (who has yet to debut) – not to mention Glasnow and Meadows critical role in helping the Rays to win the 2020 AL pennant – and the Pirates overpay for Archer couldn’t be more clear.
Even without the added expectations of the trade, it’s difficult to view Archer’s time with the Pirates as anything but a disappointment. He’ll finish with a 6-12 record with a 4.62 ERA in 172 innings across 33 starts.
All that said, there’s hope for Archer’s future. In all likelihood, he’s looking at a short-term contract to prove himself, but he will definitley be an arm to watch as a potential rebound candidate, as MLBTR’s own Steve Adams wrote about in March. Over his 8-year career with the Rays and Pirates, the former Indians and Cubs farmhand owns a 68-80 record with a 3.86 ERA over 1,235 innings.