Chicago Cubs should explore a low-cost deal with Chris Archer

Chris Archer - (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Chris Archer - (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs probably won’t spend much this year, but they might work out a deal with old friend Chris Archer.

The Chicago Cubs aren’t expected to spend a lot this winter, much like the last couple of offseasons, and many free agents are out of their price range this year. Still, their pitching staff needs some reinforcements and there are a few lower-cost options available to them. While they could re-sign Jon Lester to a short term deal, there is another former Cub that is a likely target for the team in 2021.

Chris Archer’s disastrous Pirates tenure finally came to an end after coming over in 2018. The trade, which had Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz going to the Rays, will certainly go down as one of the worst in baseball history, leading to Pittsburgh declining Archer’s option for 2021. Still, he could be a cheap potential bounce-back candidate for a team like the Cubs.

More from Cubbies Crib

Despite putting up dreadful numbers when he last pitched in 2019, the former Cub farmhand still holds a career ERA of 3.86 with a WHIP of 1.253. His best year came in 2015 when he finished fifth in Cy Young voting with the Rays and posted a 3.23 ERA. For a three-year stretch starting in 2013 and ending in 2015, he kept his ERA in the low threes.

Looking at his Baseball Savant numbers from 2019 also shows that, despite his inflated ERA, there was more upside to Archer than apparent. He ranked in the 74th percentile for strikeout percentage and 77th percentile in whiff percentage, indicating he does have some swing-and-miss stuff left in him. However, the problem is that when contact is made off of Archer, it is usually hard.

Archer ranked among the worst in the league in barrel percentage and exit velocity, showing that players had absolutely no trouble reading his pitches and launching them to the moon. If the Cubs acquired him, this needs to be the focus in terms of improving him on the mound. He won’t survive in the rotation if he can’t miss the barrel of the bat.

Now, Archer is coming off surgery to deal with thoracic outlet syndrome, which could drastically affect how he pitches in 2021. It also means his price tag will be low enough to give a team like Chicago a real chance to land him. If the Cubs could capture at least some of Archer’s success in the early 2010s, he could make for a solid addition with minimal risk. MLB Trade Rumors has him as the only top 50 free agent landing on the North Side for what it’s worth.

Cubs should target Marcell Ozuna this offseason. dark. Next

A revitalized Archer pitching alongside Kyle Hendricks and Cy Young Award finalist Yu Darvish is something Cubs fans would love to see in 2021, but let’s not set our hopes too high. There’s no reason to believe that he’ll settle in immediately and become a key contributor to the team right after major surgery. Given the price tag and the potential, though, he’s certainly worth a look.