The twins add to the rotation via free agency, announcing a deal with Chris Archer on a one-year contract. The VC Sports Group client reportedly received a $3.5 million guarantee, consisting of a $2.75 million base salary and a $750,000 buyout on a $10 million mutual option for the 2023 season. Archer’s salary in 2022 can reach a maximum of $9.5 million based on starts and/or games with at least three innings pitched, presumably to give him credit for outings. “relief” after a first game. To create space for 40 players, Minnesota sent a left-hander Lewis Thorpe squarely at Triple-A St. Paul.
Archer has barely pitched the past two seasons due to injury. He missed the entire shortened 2020 campaign after undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Bought by the Pirates after that season, he signed a one-year contract with the Rays but was limited to 19 1/3 innings in his second stint at Tampa Bay. The right-hander is on the injured list after just two appearances due to a stiff forearm. While it was initially hoped it would be a brief stint, it kept him out of action until late August. He made four appearances at the end of the year on his return, but problems with his left hip sent him back to IL for a season-ending stint.
The recent lack of volume has been a new problem for Archer, who was a durable and highly productive arm early in his career. He topped 115 innings each year between 2013 and 2019, including three consecutive 200 inning seasons with the Rays from 2015 to 2017. Archer earned All-Star selections in two of those campaigns and landed a fifth-place finish in voting for the AL Cy Young award during a 2015 season in which he posted a 3.23 ERA and 3.08 SIERA.
Archer was a top-line arm on his best days in Tampa, combining a 3.66 ERA with a strong 26.7% strikeout rate between 2014-17. The Rays traded him to the Pirates before the 2018 trade deadline, a now infamous deal that saw Pittsburgh go their separate ways Austin Meadows, Tyler Glassnow and Shane Baz to regain three and a half years of club control over Archer. Unfortunately for the Bucs, this deal seemed regrettable almost from the start. Archer’s production slipped early in his Pittsburgh tenure, and the team didn’t get a single run from him during the 2020-21 affordable club options that had made him such an attractive target at the time. of the exchange.
It has been three years since Archer was a productive member of the rotation. He’s now 33, and the mid-’90s speed he sported during his best days didn’t reappear in his brief return from TOS last year. Archer averaged just 92 mph on his four-seam fastball after sitting between 94 and 96 mph throughout his career before.
The low, incentive structure of the deal reflects both Archer’s decent upside and his three straight down seasons. If he stays healthy and cements himself in the rotation, he’ll have a chance to earn salaries comparable to rookies like Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heane were guaranteed this winter. If he is again struggling with an injury, the club’s financial investment will be more minimal.
Archer is expected to open the year in the back half of Minnesota’s rotation. The Twins have made major changes on the positional player side, shipping Mitch Garver and Josh Donaldson and bringing Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela via trade before shockingly landing the best free agent on the market, Carlos Correa. It reaffirmed the Twins were all-in on the rebound from last season’s 73-89 finish.
However, rotation has arguably been the team’s biggest weakness all winter. Minnesota landed Sonny Gray in a deal with the Reds and picked up Dylan Bundy on a recovering free agent deal not unlike today’s pact with Archer. After negotiation Jose Berrios last summer and lose Kenta Maeda at Tommy John’s surgery, they entered the offseason arguably needing three new arms to join Bailey Ober and rookie Joe Ryan in the starting team of the season opener.
Archer becomes the third such outside addition, although neither he nor Bundy are anywhere near a sure bet to provide reliable production. However, throwing alternatives became limited late in the offseason, especially with the Reds taking Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle outside the trading block. The starters of A Sean Manee and Frankie Montas looked like top-notch trade candidates, but the most recent reports suggest Oakland could carry both into the season. The free agent market had also largely thinned, with Archer and Johnny Cueto representing the best remaining options.
The Twins move forward with Archer, who will likely enter the starting five of the season along with Gray, Bundy, Ryan and Ober. Minnesota also has a trio of highly regarded pitching prospects – Josh Winder, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic – which could also be factored into the mix. Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman wrote last week that Winder appeared to be the first line of rotational reinforcements for the Twins, with Duran more likely to break into the bigs as a reliever. Given Bundy and Archer’s recent injury history and the uncertainty of young arms like Ober and Ryan, it stands to reason that Winder will get a glimpse at some point early in the year.
Thorpe was a decent pitching prospect himself, but he didn’t find a ton of major league success. The southpaw has thrown 59 1/3 innings in 24 outings as a swingman over the past three seasons, posting a 5.76 ERA. He was out of minor league option years, and the Twins opted to drop him from the 40-man roster rather than carry him to the big league club all year. Having already served the outright waivers, the Aussie native will remain in the organization without occupying a spot on the 40-man squad.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported that the Twins and Archer have agreed to a $3.5 million deal that could go up to a maximum of $9.5 million based on starts and/or appearances in three innings. MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park reported the $10 million mutual option, which Passan reported contained a $750,000 buyout.
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