The Pittsburgh Pirates are no strangers to trades. But when a trade is done in the interest of bettering the team rather than a penny-pinching move, Bucco fans stop what they are doing and take notice. That’s what happened last season when the Pirates acquired pitcher Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays.
On the outside, the Chris Archer trade was a solid baseball move aimed at making the team better — the kind of move most teams would like to make at the trade deadline. The Pirates acquired one of the best aces available at last year’s trade deadline on a reasonable contract and under team control for a number of years. At the time the Pirates were a fringe playoff contender. Not only did they address a need to keep them in contention in 2018 but also for years beyond.
There is just one problem: the players they gave up are performing great and Archer is not. To get Archer, the Pirates gave Tampa pitcher Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows and pitching prospect Shane Baz. Glasnow was a highly-touted prospect who struggled in his time with the Pirates; this year for the Rays he has six wins and a 1.86 ERA through eight starts. Meadows, the former #2 prospect in the Pirates system and the heir apparent to Andrew McCutchen in center field, came out blazing in his MLB debut before cooling off and getting sent back down, is now, at the time of writing this article, slashing .300/.375/.535 with 12 homers and eight steals. Archer meanwhile is now 3-5 with a 5.56 ERA.
Just can’t have nice things
The Pirates gave up three solid prospects in the Chris Archer trade for what should have been a solid starter to accompany Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams in the top three of the rotation. Unfortunately for them, it broke bad in a big way. Barring a major turnaround by Archer, the trade will be a loss. I’m not even sure what a turnaround would have to look like to match or exceed the production Glasnow and Meadows are putting up right now.
What does this mean moving forward for the Pirates organization? It means it’ll be a long while before the Pirates try to make another baseball trade to help better the team because now they have proof positive that they should just leave well enough alone.
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