Whether or not Major League Baseball and the Players Association can reach an agreement on a modified 2020 season, Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Chris Archer won't be making an appearance. That's because the team announced on Wednesday that Archer will miss the year after undergoing surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
Here's the team's release on the matter:
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that right-handed pitcher Chris Archer underwent surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) on Tuesday, June 2. The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Thompson at Washington University in St. Louis.
After consulting with several leading vascular and orthopedic surgeons in recent weeks, the decision was made to undergo the procedure.
Archer is projected to return to full competition for the 2021 season.
Archer, 31, has not performed as well as the Pirates hoped he would when they traded Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz to acquire him at the 2018 deadline. In 33 starts with the Pirates, he's posted a 4.92 ERA (85 ERA+) and a 2.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His biggest issue has been his proneness to the long ball: in 172 innings he has yielded 32 home runs, or nearly two every nine innings.
Prior to being traded to the Pirates, Archer had established himself as an above-average starter with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 179 career appearances with Tampa Bay, he held marks that included a 107 ERA+ and 3.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Archer at his best had one of the league's top sliders.
A return to old form seemed unlikely for Archer regardless, but recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome-related surgery has proven to be a challenge for a number of pitchers, including Matt Harvey. In 2018, Jay Jaffe found that "the average total of post-surgery innings for the group is just 218, compared to an average of 657 innings prior."
The Pirates hold an option on Archer for the 2021 season that would pay him $11 million. Given Pittsburgh's notoriously parsimonious ways, it seems more likely that they will buy him out for $250,000. As such, he could well hit the market this winter at an uncertain time for him and, possibly, the league.