Pirates Acquire Chris Archer From Rays In Deadline Splash
The Pirates began the day announcing they were buyers when they acquired Keone Kela from the Rangers. They finished it by making arguably the biggest trade of deadline day.
The Pirates acquired Chris Archer from the Rays in the final hour before the non-waiver trade deadline, sending back righthanded Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows in return, as well as a player to be named later.
Pittsburgh, which traded Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen in the offseason, geared back up and moved with 3.5 games of the second National League wild card spot entering Tuesday's games, emboldening them to go big and grab arguably the best starting pitcher available. The cost was two players who were formerly fixtures of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list who had since graduated into becoming solid big leaguers on a contending club.
AUG. 14 UPDATE: The Rays acquired RHP Shane Baz as the player to be named later to complete the trade.
Chris Archer, RHP
Archer may not be quite the ace he’s perceived to be, but he’s still a potent starter under contract for years to come. He is 3-5, 4.31 and has seen his strikeout rate decline this season, but moving out of the ruggest AL East should help. He was a roughly league-average starter in 2016-17 and an above-average one before that, and a change of scenery may be able to rejuvenate him, similar to how Gerrit Cole rediscovered his ace form after moving to Houston. The Pirates' rotation entered the day with a 4.18 ERA, which ranked 17th in the majors, and the aim is for Archer to help improve that. Even if it doesn’t work out this year, Archer is signed through 2019 and has affordable team options for 2020 ($8.25 million) and 2021 ($8.25 million), giving him the chance to help Pittsburgh in the long-term as well.
Pirates Focus On Improving Player Development
The fact that Pirates prospects tended to improve dramatically with new organizations did not go unnoticed by ownership.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP
The towering, 6-foot-9 righthander reached as high as the No. 14 prospect in baseball in 2015, but mechanical difficulties related to his height haven’t allowed him to reach that ceiling. After multiple failed bids at starting, Glasnow moved to relief this year and has been better, going 1-2, 4.34 and shaving his walk rate from 6.4 per nine innings to 5.5 while increasing his strikeout rate from 8.1 to 11.6 per nine innings. Glasnow brings a huge fastball that sits 96-98 mph and a wipeout curveball. The problem is he struggles to throw strikes, and after he walks batters, he is slow to the plate and allows them to steal easily. Glasnow has slowly made fixes to alleviate those problems somewhat, but it is still a work in progress. The Rays will hope he is a late-bloomer, like many other tall pitchers, and that the best is yet come.
Austin Meadows, OF
Meadows was a five-time Top 100 Prospect who reached as high as No. 6 in the game, but frequent injuries slowed his ascent. He finally reached the majors this season and has delivered on his promise, batting .292/.327/.468 with eight doubles, two triples and five home runs in 49 games. Meadows possesses a smooth lefthanded swing that makes frequent contact, and he is expected to grow into more home run power as he matures physically. He has the speed and instincts to play all three outfield positions, and he split his time in Pittsburgh playing them all with 15 games in center field, 13 games in right and 12 games in left. Not everyone is sold that Meadows will hit for significant power, and he has a lengthy injury history that limited him to half-seasons in both 2016 and 2017. But his hitting ability and defensive tools are prominent and should make him a part of the Rays' outfield long-term.
Shane Baz, RHP
The Pirates drafted Baz in the first round, 12th overall, in 2017, and he has lived up to the hype early. He ranked No. 4 on the Pirates' Midseason Top 10 Prospects list and won the Appalachian League pitcher of the week award after two straight scoreless outings last week. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Baz brings explosive stuff with a fastball that sits 94-95 mph and touches 97 mph. He throws both a slider and a curveball that have bite and depth, and his changeup has promise as a usable fourth pitch. In addition to his big stuff, Baz further keeps hitters uncomfortable by changing up his delivery, quick-pitching at times and holding his leg kick at others. Like many teen pitchers, Baz is still learning to command his fastball and control his offspeed pitches, resulting in a high walk rate (4.6 BB/9) to go with a high strikeout rate (10.7 SO/9). The Pirates also emphasized being more pitch efficient with Baz, trying to get him to draw weak contact early in counts rather than try and strike everybody out. Baz has the physicality, athleticism and stuff of a potential frontline starter, but he is many years and developmental steps away from reaching that ceiling. He will begin his Rays career at Rookie-level Princeton.