Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chris Archer underwent surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the Pirates announced today. He will not pitch in 2020, assuming there is a season in 2020.
Archer, 31, was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2006, and was sent to the Chicago Cubs with two other players for Mark DeRosa in the 2008-09 offseason. The Cubs then sent him to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a package that also included Robinson Chirinos in the 2010-11 offseason in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.
Archer blossomed early on for the Rays, finishing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2013 and 5th in the Cy Young balloting in 2015, when he had a 3.9 bWAR season as a 26 year old and appeared to be ready to break out as one of the best starters in the league.
The breakout never happened, however...Archer regressed instead. Teams still liked his ability and his potential, though, and at the 2018 trade deadline, the Pirates sent Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz to Tampa for Archer — the same day the Pirates acquired Keone Kela for Taylor Hearn and Sherten Apostel.
As bad as the Kela deal looks for Pittsburgh now, the Archer deal looks even worse. Meadows had a 4 win season in 2019, Glasnow was dominant in 12 starts for Tampa, and Archer put up a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts for the Pirates. And now Archer will miss the 2020 campaign.
Archer has an $11 million team option for 2021 with a $250K buyout, and then will be eligible for free agency. One has to assume that the Pirates will exercise the option, let Archer show his stuff to start 2021, and then move him in the summer if they aren’t in contention.