The Case of Chris Archer vs the Pittsburgh Pirates

One of the biggest decisions this off-season is really what to do with Chris Archer. If they keep him it affects everything from who they non-tender to who winds up in the rotation. So I thought, let’s look at this like a court proceeding and see if you the jury can make a decision based on all the facts. For this exercise we’ll call buying him out the prosecution and picking up his option the defense. I’ll give you my thoughts at the end but try to be an impartial juror and let me know how you’d rule on the case.

The Defense of Chris Archer

Chris Archer is a good citizen and if you were to head out to the open market and try to pick up a free agent pitcher like him, 11 Million is right in line with what you’d have to spend, well, minus the years you’d surely have to commit to. Archer isn’t guilty of making the trade that brought him to town but his performance has been viewed in the light of what his counterparts have done since the move was made.

The TOS surgery is risky and that can’t be denied but the Pirates have been part of the rehab from the start and should have a very good idea of how he’s progressed. If you’re that worried about this recovery, why are so many excited to see Nick Burdi pitch in 2021?

If it works out, the Pirates can always trade Archer at the deadline rather than let him walk for nothing in return. After all, the Pirates gave up quite a bit to get him on this roster, it would be a shame to come out of that with nothing to show for it. Wouldn’t it be nice to 5 years from now say yeah we lost Meadows, Glasnow and Baz but that all turned into this guy, or these guys?

Heading into 2020 the Pirates had Archer penciled in as the opening day starter, its hard to believe a year later he is disposable.

In closing, you may think this injury makes the decision easy, but what if the injury itself was a big reason for the decline in his game to begin with? Isn’t it worth a shot for a club that has plenty of room in the budget to pick up this option?

The Prosecution of Chris Archer

You’ve heard the defense talk an awful lot about this injury and that surely is part of the decision making in this case but the reality is, Ben Cherington is here because Chris Archer is. If that trade was never made perhaps Neal Huntington would have kept his position. It’s not like Bob Nutting was going to just wake up one day with night sweats that his farm system wasn’t producing talent.

That said, the injury can’t be overlooked. Recovery from this procedure is in many ways more of a crap shoot than Tommy John. The comparison to Nick Burdi isn’t fair, we’re talking about the difference between 11 Million dollars and a little over 500 thousand. Not to mention when healthy Burdi looks like an unhittable back of the bullpen pitcher where Archer has looked like a mistake from about his second start in Pittsburgh.

It is not the responsibility of this administration to help the past make something out of this terrible move. That’s a losing battle and by even deciding to try it would serve as nothing more than an opportunity to fail to impress. The Pirates will never get anything close to what they gave away for Archer and to pretend otherwise would make this group look just as incompetent. Especially when getting out of the situation is only 250 thousand dollars. That’s a buyout that really makes even entertaining picking up the option itself a dereliction of duty.

He was in decline before this move was ever made and plain and simple, the previous team bought a name.

In closing, this management team would have never made this deal in the first place and the sooner we get away from this player, the sooner the memories and visions of missing out on what was given away start to fade a bit.

My Verdict

I can see the logic in picking up the option, after all, it’s not my money. But with the other decisions the Pirates have to make already with non-tenders or potential DFA’s it’s hard for me to think this is a risk worth taking.

Even if Archer comes out and puts together a Cy Young type season (not likely) this team is still not where it needs to be and from a trust building standpoint, how would it look if he was on pace for a season like that and Cherington did the responsible thing and traded him. Sure there would be many who understood and supported it, but to casual fans it would look like little more than another example of this team trading away players that can help.

If I’m Ben Cherington, I walk away from this. I cut ties and move on in the cleanest way possible.

I buy out Chris Archer.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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