By: Noah Wright
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Pirates arguably had one of the best deadlines this season. They were able to acquire decent, and controllable MLB talent without having to deplete the farm system. However, they entered July looking like a sub-.500 team. So now that it’s been a little over a week since the deadline, how have the trades they’ve made helped the team overall.
The Pirates big move was acquiring former Rays’ starter Chris Archer. For Archer, they had to give up Tyler Glasnow, and former top prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows was the only piece that I was not happy to see leave, but The Rays were not willing to deal Archer without Meadows included. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Archer had a 4.31 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 2.9 walk rate, and struck out 9.6 batters per 9. However, he was pitching in a hitter friendly park in a division that held the two best teams in baseball, along with The DH. Another thing that adds to Archer’s contract is that he’s affordably controllable through 2021. The first piece in the deal was Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow had shown that he struggles with control problems with a 5.5 BB/9 rate this season. He does have a 11.6 K/9 rate, and .8 home run/9 rate with The Bucs too over 56 innings of work. Meadows was a prospect that many considered McCutchen’s replacement, and he looked good in the first few weeks he was in the majors. However once Marte, Dickerson, and Polanco all started to perform very well, he seemed like the odd man out. He fell into a slump after not receiving much playing time, and was eventually optioned to triple-A. If The Pirates want to compete, they’ve finally shown that they’re willing to part with some prospects to acquire MLB talent. If Archer can perform well now that he’s in a much more pitcher friendly situation, he could be the #2, or even ace level pitcher that we’ve been able to see Archer perform at before. The starting rotation was fairly solid before Archer got to Pittsburgh. Jose Musgove, Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and Nick Kingham were all doing a good enough job, however now that The Pirates have a decent rotation anchor, their starting pitching looks even better.
Kela was The Rangers closer before The Pirates acquired the hard throwing right hander. In return for Kela, The Rangers received prospect Taylor Hearn. Kela was having a nice season, with a 3.44 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 10.8 K/9 rate, and 3.4 walk rate in 38 and two thirds innings down south. He, like Archer, is affordably controlled through 2021. Hearn was originally acquired by The Pirates in the trade that sent Mark Melancon to The Nationals for Felipe Rivero/Vasquez, and Hearn. Hearn has spent all 104 innings in Altoona Double-A. The 23 year old has been a fairly nice prospect so far, with a 3.55, 3.21 FIP, 9.3 K/9 rate, and 3.3 walk rate. Bullpen was a major concern for The Pirates entering the season, and even into early July. Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, and Felipe Vasquez/Rivero were all doing very well when The Pirates acquired Kela, but had some ups and downs to start the season. Michael Feliz was also struggling for The Pirates before he was optioned to Triple-A. Minor league signee Rich Rodriguez has been having a good season, and for a while was arguably their best bullpen piece. Once Kela joined the bullpen, he’ll join a very good 6th-7th-8th-9th inning bullpen handoff.
The Pirates trades were overall decent. It’s even arguable that they had the best deadline this season. Chris Archer and Keone Kela further solidify a pitching staff that has seen its fair share of struggles through the early part of the season, and still had some questions in July. Even if they do not make a playoff spot this season, the pieces they acquired are controllable for a handful of years, so if they do decent this season, it’s very possible that they could further add throughout the off season.