The Pirates will pick up their 2020 club options on Starling Marte and Chris Archer before Major League Baseball's deadline of 5 p.m. Monday. Sources confirmed the Marte option to DK Pittsburgh Sports. Nubyjas Wilborn of the Post-Gazette was the first to report the Archer option.
The team had a choice of picking up a $2 million buyout or Marte's $11.5 million option. Archer's figures were a $1.75 million buyout and a $9 million option. They're currently in line to be the team's highest-paid players in 2020.
Also, the team outrighted four players off their 40-man roster, all pitchers: James Marvel, their Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2019, as well as Alex McRae, Yefry Ramirez and Wei-Chung Wang.
And they reinstated eight players from the 60-day Injury List: Archer, Gregory Polanco, Kyle Crick, Nick Burdi, Chad Kuhl, Jason Martin, Edgar Santana and Jameson Taillon.
The 40-man roster, which began the day at 43, currently stands at 39.
All moves were formally announced by Kevan Graves, the interim general manager acting in advance of the deadline while the front office searches for a successor to Neal Huntington.
Neither of the options came as a surprise.
Marte set a career high in home runs (23), RBIs (82), runs (97), slugging percentage (.503) and OPS (.845) while providing extra value with his defense in center field and on the basepaths. He finished with 2.9 WAR, tied with Josh Bell, third-highest on the Pirates. He suffered a left wrist injury making a sliding catch on Sept. 8 and only appeared as a pinch-runner after that.
“Starling is an All-Star caliber center fielder who impacts the game in all phases,” Graves said. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring him back in 2020 following his excellent 2019 season.”
He could be traded this offseason if the Pirates decide under a new general manager that a rebuild is in order.
Archer's 2019 was a disappointment as he went 3-9 with a 5.19 ERA in his first full season in Pittsburgh. That was partially due to injuries, making two trips to the injured list. He missed nearly three weeks due to a right thumb injury in late April, and missed the rest of the season after he started to experience right shoulder inflammation on Aug. 20. Those ailments limited him to 119.2 innings pitched, the fewest for him since he became a big-leaguer full-time in 2013.
Another reason for Archer's struggles was the two-seamer, a pitch he added once he came to Pittsburgh. While plenty of Pirates found success relying on the pitch during their three year playoff run from 2013-2015, it has fallen out of vogue league-wide over the past few seasons. Archer's sinking fastball was hit hard, but he started to pitch better once he shelved it in late June.
“We are encouraged about the progression Chris made in the second half of last season and look forward to him being a part of our rotation in 2020,” Graves said.
Both players have one more club option for 2021 remaining on their contracts before they are eligible for free agency.
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