3. Chris Archer
Major League Career: 8 Years (Parts of 7 years w/ Rays)
Major League rWAR: 13.8 (12.6 w/ Rays)
Archer was acquired in a trade that sent Matt Garza, Fernando Perez, and Jason Bartlett from the Rays to the Cubs in exchange for Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer, and Hak-Ju Lee.
Archer turned out to be the prized piece in the deal. At the age of 24, Archer took the league by storm, posting a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts for the 2013 Rays.
In 2014, he blossomed into a full-blown ace, making 32 starts and posting a 3.33 ERA. He pitched in 194.2 innings, struck out eight batters per nine innings, and only walked 3.3 per nine.
In 2015 he led baseball in games started with thirty-four. He pitched in 212.0 innings and continued to become an even better pitcher. Archer made his first All-Star game, lowered his walks per nine to 2.8 and increased his strikeouts per nine to 10.7. He finished 2015 with a 3.23 ERA.
Between 2013 and 2015 Archer had a combined ERA of 3.26 across the three seasons. 2015 would be the final season Archer had an ERA under four.
It’s not that he was bad in 2016, but he posted a career-high in ERA with a 4.02 over 201.1 innings. The following year, he led the league in games started again, with thirty-four. He once again ended up a hair above four with his ERA at a 4.07. He did make his second All-Star appearance in 2017.
His peripherals still looked good, but he was giving up more homers. During his stellar first three full seasons, he gave up less than one homer per inning.
In 2016 he gave up 1.3 homers per nine, or a full 0.5 homers per nine innings than the previous year. Archer has never had a season with a HR/9 below 1.0 since then.
Last season Archer’s homers per nine reached an all-time high of 1.9 with the Pirates.
As good as Archer was for the Rays, they inevitably cashed in on his success. For all of the value and production the Rays got out of the Matt Garza deal that brought Archer to the Rays, they got even more when they traded Chris Archer.
For his career with the Rays, he posted a 3.69 ERA, had a run of three years where he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and made two All-Star appearances. In the end, he was flipped for two players who quickly became superstars and a third who is rapidly working his way through the minor leagues.
Chris Archer was a huge success as the Rays’ third-best prospect of 2011.