Tampa Bay will receive right-hander Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows and a player to be named later.
Although he has been a reliever exclusively in 2018, Glasnow has made 17 MLB starts and 117 starts in the minors. Meadows, meanwhile, is batting .292 and slugging .468 with five home runs and 13 RBI in his rookie season.
Although Archer finished with an ERA slightly above 4.00 in each of the last two seasons, which is below expectations for a pitcher with his stuff, it's surprising the Rays moved him. He posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with 249 strikeouts in 201 innings in 2017.
He owns a 4.31 ERA through 17 starts this year.
None of the other factors typically involved when a marquee player gets traded were in play with the 29-year-old right-hander. He doesn't have an extensive injury history, he seems to be a positive influence in the clubhouse and he's under club control through 2021 on a team-friendly deal, per Spotrac.
The Rays have also remained a fringe factor in the AL wild-card race. They are 10 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot.
Last September, the North Carolina native talked about a second straight year where his ERA finished well above his 3.69 career mark.
"Honestly, if you remove maybe three starts, I had a terrific year," he told reporters. "You put in three starts where I gave up about 18 runs, it's very mediocre for me. Lots of innings, lots of strikeouts, not a lot of wins. Just had a couple bad games, and it skewed the numbers a little. For me, I still feel good about the overall body of work."
Starting pitchers with his type of electric arm and elite strikeout numbers aren't easy to find. That's why it's worth taking a chance on him, even if he's struggled with his command at times.
The Pirates have remained firmly in the NL playoff race despite mediocre production from their starting pitchers. Pittsburgh ranks 17th in starter ERA, per ESPN.com. The addition of Archer should help improve that number if he can return to top form following the move.
He'll headline a rotation that also includes Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Ivan Nova.
It's important to remember Pittsburgh's newest addition is signed for the long haul. So it's a far more promising trade based on the fact that he'll continue to help for years.
Ultimately, the Rays decided to trade Archer now, which eliminates the possibility he could lose further value. It's the type of move that could come back to haunt the organization if he can reach his potential in his new home, though.