The Tampa Bay Rays have signed free-agent starting pitcher Chris Archer on a one-year, $6.5 million deal, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The deal is pending a physical. Archer, 32, spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but did not pitch during the abbreviated 2020 campaign after undergoing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The veteran righty will now return to the team where he first made his name. Archer spent his first seven years in MLB with the Rays, posting a 3.69 ERA (107 ERA+) and 1.23 WHIP with 1,146 strikeouts against 347 walks in 1,063 innings. Archer at his best had one of the league's top sliders and was a two-time All-Star with the Rays.
However, after he was traded from Tampa to Pittsburgh for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz at the 2018 deadline, he struggled to a mediocre 4.92 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 172 innings in 33 starts with the Pirates. Pittsburgh opted to pay Archer's $250,000 buyout rather than pick up 2021's $11 million club option following the conclusion of the 2020 season.
Archer missed all of the 2020 season due to thoracic outlet surgery, a procedure which has derailed the careers of many pitchers, including former Mets All-Star Matt Harvey. Archer has been somewhat of a forgotten free agent this offseason, as it's unknown what he has left to give on the mound, though the possibility of Archer posting a bounce-back season in 2021 remains. And, considering the fact that the Tampa organization is skilled at getting the most out of its pitchers, a reunion with Archer could ultimately result in success for both parties.