Cubs: MLB Trade Rumors predicts one top free agent for Chicago

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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MLB Trade Rumors predicts the Cubs will finally bring back Chris Archer.

We all know the Chicago Cubs aren’t going to be heavy hitters on the free agent market this winter. If anything, they’ll start breaking down the core that netted the franchise’s first championship in over a century with an eye on the future.

MLB Trade Rumors just dropped their annual Top 50 free agent predictions list. You can skip past the top names: Trevor Bauer, George Springer and the likes. They’re not coming to the Cubs. But if you scroll all the way to the bottom, at #50, they have right-hander Chris Archer making his long-awaited return to the North Side.

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Although he never reached the big leagues with the Cubs, he spent a chunk of time in their farm system after coming over from the Indians in the deal that sent Mark DeRosa to Cleveland in December 2008. Three years later, the Rays acquired him as part of a package that saw Matt Garza, Fernando Perez and Zac Rosscup land in the Windy City.

He peaked with the Rays, an organization that has long been lauded for its ability to develop impactful young arms. In 2013, he finished third in American League Cy Young voting and two years later, he ranked fifth in AL Cy Young balloting and earned the first of two All-Star nods.

Then, ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, Tampa Bay traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in what could go down as one of the single-most lopsided deals in baseball history. Of course, Tampa netted Tyler Glasnow, Shane Baz and Austin Meadows and, this year, advanced to the second World Series in franchise history.

Meanwhile, Archer never put it together in the Steel City. He made 33 starts between 2018 and 2019 (missing 2020 in its entirety due to surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome), working to a 4.92 ERA and 4.71 FIP. The long-ball plagued him with the Bucs and the Pittsburgh front office made the easy call to decline his $11 million option for 2021.

Which brings us back to this year’s free agent class. MLB Trade Rumors pegs Archer to the Cubs on a one-year, $4 million deal. Personally, I don’t know if he’ll even get that much after not pitching this season – but that’s in the general ballpark of what we’ll be talking money-wise.

At the end of the day, Archer is still just 32 years old. He averaged nearly 11 punchouts per nine in 2019 – showing he’s still got some swing-and-miss stuff in his arsenal. Hitters were just barreling him up nonstop. That’s something Chicago’s famed Pitch Lab could help address. If that were the case and he returned to form, slotting Archer in behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks next season would give the Cubs one of the best big three’s in the league.

Next. Once again, the Cubs desperately need an on-base threat. dark

We’ll see how it all plays out. But I think someone like Archer or familiar face Cole Hamels is probably the type of arms we’ll see the front office target. It’ll undoubtedly be another offseason of searching for a diamond-in-the-rough to round out the roster.

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