By: Noah Wright
The third player, who when the trade was made was just a PTBNL, in The Chris Archer-to-The Pirates swap was announced yesterday. Along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, former 2017 first round draft pick Shane Baz will also head to Tampa’s farm-system. However I think that the trade went from pretty fair on both sides to overpay. Now that the trade is finalized, let's re-examine The Chris Archer swap
To start, let's look back at how this trade came to fruition. Former Tampa Bay Ray starter Chris Archer was in many trade talks for a while before The July Deadline. A handful of teams had shown interest, including The Padres, Yankees, along with The Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers. However around deadline time, The Pirates were fresh off an 11 game winning streak, and put themselves back into a contending position. This made them a buyer at the deadline, and another team to be added to the list of potential Chris Archer suitors. Just an hour and two minutes before The Deadline was over, The Pirates emerged as the team to acquire Chris Archer.
Now let's look at all the players that were originally involved in this swap. The obvious big piece in this deal was Chris Archer. Archer had shown promise early in his career with The Rays, but hasn’t recorded an ERA under 4 since 2015. However that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been somewhat useful. Between 2016 and 2017, Archer provided a 4.05 ERA, but a 3.60 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, and showed some decent control with 2.8 walks/9, and a high 10.8 K’s/9. His numbers with Tampa were pretty similar in 2018. Before being dealt to Pittsburgh, Archer ad a 4.31 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.285 WHIP, and a near identical BB/9 and K/9 rate (2.9/9.6). However I do see him doing better in the future with The Pirates. Archer is moving from a very hitter friendly environment (Hitter friendly park, plays in the same division as The Red Sox and Yankees) to a more pitcher friendly environment. The first player I want to look at that’s heading back to Tampa Bay is Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow was one of The Pirates former highly touted farm hands, ranking in the top 20 prospect range multiple times according to Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. However when Glasnow eventually did make it to the majors, he greatly struggled with control problems. Last season Glasnow walked nearly 6.5 (6.4) batters per 9, and this season with The Bucs, he walked about 5.5 per 9. This season, Glasnow has mainly pitched out of the pen, and owns a 4.34 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.446 WHIP. He also showed improvement in preventing the long ball, with just a .8 HR/9 rate. However I think one of Glasnow’s biggest downfalls was his confidence. If any Pirate fan has watched Glasnow pitched, you know that he never looks too confident when pitching, and maybe it was enough to mess up his performance. The second of three player The Pirates gave up was Austin Meadows. Meadows was another highly touted prospect in The Pirates farm system, and showed some promise once reaching The Bigs. For the two months of his career (Mid-May to June), Meadows was batting .314/.351/.529 with 5 home runs, 4 stolen bases and 13 RBI’s in just 131 plate appearances. But once Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco all started to hit well, Meadows fell as the odd man out, and only receiving playing time sparingly. Throughout July, Meadows only got 34 plate appearances, and batted a weak .212/.235/.242. Overall though before being traded, Meadows has a line of .292/.327/.468 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI’s, but was worth -1 defensive WAR.
But this is the part of the trade I don’t like. The Pirates can make good reasoning for trading both Meadows and Glasnow, but I can’t think of a truly good reason to trade Shane Baz. Baz was their 2017 first round draft pick, and was doing OK in rookie ball. He had a 3.97 ERA, 3.91 FIP. However he was struggling with control with a 4.6 BB/9 rate and just a 2.35 strikeouts/walk ratio. BaZ is ranked #95 among all prospects according to MLB.com, and his most dominant pitch, a fastball, can reach up to the higher 90’s. I do understand that you sometimes have to give something to get something, but if you have to give up a player that showed well when given regular playing time in the majors, and a First Round pick for a pitcher that never consistently showed ace potential, I don’t think you should make that trade.
Right now, it does look like an overpay for The Pirates. However you have to remember that most of the players Tampa Bay received were unproven at the major league level. Sure Meadows did good when given regular playing time, (I know that I used this as a reason this trade was an overpay, but hear me out), but how do we know if that was a fluke? How do we know that these two starts with Tampa Bay for Glasnow aren’t just flukes as well? Plus, Baz is 19, hasn’t even reached single-A yet. Who’s to say that in 3 or so years when Baz is supposed to be ready, Baz will still be the prospect he is now? In the end, I do think it’s an overpay for The Pirates, but I’m not ready to say The Pirates completely lost this trade, and I think the only way we find out if this was truly an overpay is in 2-3 years when each player has had a good amount of playing time with each of their new teams.