6:47pm: Minnesota has announced the deal. To create space for Archer on the 40-man roster, the club outrighted southpaw Lewis Thorpe.
6:19pm: Archer’s deal has a $2.75MM base salary with a $750K buyout on the mutual option, Passan adds. His incentives are based on starts or games with at least three innings pitched, presumably to give Archer credit for “relief” outings following an opener.
6:15pm: The Twins are in agreement with starter Chris Archer on a one-year, $3.5MM deal, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). Archer can earn up to $9.5MM via performance bonuses. The deal also contains a $10MM mutual option for 2023, reports Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com (on Twitter).
Archer has barely pitched over the past couple seasons due to injury. He missed all of the shortened 2020 campaign after undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Bought out the Pirates after that season, he signed a one-year deal with the Rays but was limited to 19 1/3 innings during his second stint in Tampa Bay. The righty hit the injured list after just two appearances on account of forearm tightness. While it was initially hoped that’d be a brief stint, it kept him out of action until late August. He made four appearances late in the year upon returning, but issues with his left hip sent him back to the IL for a season-ending stint.
The lack of recent volume has been a new issue for Archer, who was a durable and highly productive arm early in his career. He exceeded 115 innings every year between 2013-19, including three consecutive 200-inning seasons with the Rays between 2015-17. Archer earned All-Star selections in two of those campaigns and picked up a fifth-place finish in AL Cy Young Award voting during a 2015 campaign in which he posted a 3.23 ERA and a 3.08 SIERA.
Archer was a top-of-the-rotation arm during his best days in Tampa, combining for a 3.66 ERA with a strong 26.7% strikeout rate between 2014-17. The Rays flipped him to the Pirates in advance of the 2018 trade deadline, a now-infamous deal that saw Pittsburgh part with austin meadows, Tyler Glassnow and Shane Baz to pick up three and a half years of club control over Archer. Unfortunately for the Bucs, that deal looked regrettable almost from the get-go. Archer’s production went backwards early in his Pittsburgh tenure, and the team didn’t get a single inning from Archer during the affordable 2020-21 club options that had him such an appealing target for the club in 2018.
It has been three years since Archer was a productive rotation member. He’s now 33 years old, and the mid-90s velocity he sported during his best days didn’t reappear in his brief return from TOS last year. Archer averaged only 92 MPH on his four-seam fastball after sitting in the 94-96 MPH range throughout his entire career previously.
The low-base, incentive-laden structure of the deal reflects both Archer’s decent upside and his three consecutive down seasons. If he stays healthy and cements himself as a reliable rotation member, he’ll have a chance to earn comparable salaries as back-end starters like Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney landed this winter. If he again struggles with injury, the club’s financial investment will be more minimal.
More to come.