Revisiting the Cubs-Rays Trade for Chris Archer

Former Rays right-hander Chris Archer
Former Rays right-hander Chris Archer / Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

MLB's 2011 offseason wasn't comprised of a ton of head-spinning breaking news, and some might say that the monster trade between the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays saved what was a dull winter.

The deal, which involved eight players, centered on Rays right-hander Matt Garza and then-Cubs prospect Chris Archer. At the time, the former was coming off his best season as a pro, during which he posted a 15-10 record with a 3.91 ERA and 150 strikeouts across 204.2 innings. He even pitched a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers.

Let's evaluate this trade from both sides and see if we can determine a winner, shall we?

Cubs-Rays Chris Archer Trade Details

  • Cubs Received: Matt Garza, Zac Rosscup, and Fernando Perez
  • Rays Received: Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld, Robinson Chirinos, and Hak-Ju Lee

Garza, a former ALCS MVP with the Rays, spent less than three seasons in the Windy City, and actually logged better numbers than he did with Tampa Bay. In 60 starts, Garza went 21-18 with a 3.45 ERA and 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

Rosscup didn't break onto the Cubs' roster until 2013, and he struggled mightily once he did. Across four seasons in the North Side, he logged a 5.32 ERA in 47.1 innings. Finally, we have Perez, who was a minor leaguer at the time. The former big league outfielder never appeared in a game for Chicago.

The Cubs certainly benefitted from this trade, but how did the Rays' side pan out?

Archer, though brilliant at times, is one of the most erratic hurlers in the MLB. The Rays do deserve credit for getting the best out of the right-hander, who was a two-time All-Star in his seven-year stint with the franchise.

Fuld was nothing more than a role player for the Rays and largely struggled to produce. Guyer spent five seasons with the team. His best year came in 2015, when he hit .266/.359/.413 with eight home runs and 28 RBI. Lee never made an MLB appearance, and Chirinos was in Tampa for one year before he was scooped up by the Texas Rangers in free agency.

Perhaps the biggest "win" for the Rays here did not come until Archer was disposed of, however. He was sent to Pittsburgh at the 2018 deadline for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and top prospect Shane Baz, and the Rays have completely remade their core following the deal. An incredible roster makeover in a one-stop shop.

Don't count out the Cubs' return too, though -- Garza was also traded for an eventual World Champion in 2013, when he went to Texas in a deal that included Carl Edwards Jr.

Who Won the Cubs-Rays Chris Archer Trade?

It goes without saying that the Cubs' results haven't come close to meeting the Rays' return. Tampa Bay at least had a postseason appearance to show for Archer's tenure, and has a bright future thanks to dealing him once again. At the time, Chicago was struggling to eclipse the 70-win mark.

The W has to go to the Rays here.