Despite a disappointing season-and-a-half from Chris Archer, the Pittsburgh Pirates had no choice but to pick up his option for next season.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to trade for pitcher Chris Archer back in the Summer of 2018, the team expected him to improve a pitching staff that needed an infusion of talent. Unfortunately, things have not gone smoothly for Archer in a Pirates uniform. Since the trade that brought him to Pittsburgh, he has struggled to the tune of a 4.75 ERA, continuing a decline that goes back several seasons. When they made the trade, the Pirates were hopeful that Archer simply needed a change of scenery to regain his status as one of baseball’s most dangerous pitchers, but it’s now clear that wasn’t the case. Regardless, the team decided to pick up the option in Archer’s contract. Why? It’s simple; there was no other choice.
This is a team that is consistently one of the most embarrassing in MLB. Between clubhouse drama, a refusal to keep star players around and the debacle that has been this offseason, the Pirates are now in full-blown save face mode. Let’s just consider what they gave up to land Archer’s services. At the time of the trade, Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow were just another pair of disappointing players for Pittsburgh, but like so many others (looking at you Gerrit Cole), they have gone on to become stars after leaving. The optics of those two shining outside of Pittsburgh are already bad, but if the Buccos then got rid of the only player they have to show from that trade, it would look even worse.
It’s never smart business to keep players just for the sake of keeping players, but here we are. Bob Nutting, the Pirates infamous owner, can’t afford any more negative press, and giving up on Archer would have been a clear admission of yet another failed experiment under his leadership. Based on the on-field results, Archer should be moving on from Pittsburgh this offseason, but because Nutting and Co. can’t don’t want the embarrassment of failing again, they have no choice but to keep the struggling pitcher around.