Chris Archer can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline didn’t disappoint, and after almost a full year of heavy speculation the Tampa Bay Rays actually dealt him. The shocking part is who they dealt him to. Tuesday afternoon saw the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up Chris Archer, but it sure as heck didn’t come cheap.
“OFFICIAL: Pirates have acquired RHP Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHP Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows and a player to be named.”
Other teams, specifically Atlanta and Milwaukee, were in on Archer as well. Atlanta maybe could’ve put together a better package for Archer than Pittsburgh did, but that same train of thought doesn’t apply to the Brewers. That is, unless they were willing to give up either Corbin Burnes or Keston Hiura. Or both. Regardless, this is a great haul on paper for the Rays.
Meadows, 23, was once ranked as high as the No. 6 prospect in all of baseball. He still had top 50 clout ahead of this campaign. Across 49 games for the Pirates this season, he hit .292/.327/.468 with eight doubles and five home runs. He automatically becomes an everyday starter with the Rays. We know how good Meadows can be, and he hasn’t done much to worry us yet.
Glasnow, on the other hand, is very intriguing. A fifth round pick back in 2011, he found himself consistently within the top 20 of most prospect lists from 2015 through 2017. The talent just hasn’t translated to the majors yet. He’s already had Tommy John surgery, and despite strong numbers across the board in the minors is still trying to find his footing at the highest level. In a bullpen role this season, he’s doing just that.
Over parts of three seasons, Glasnow holds a 5.79 ERA, 4.90 FIP and 5.56 DRA over 141.1 innings of work. In 56 innings of work this season, he’s got a 4.34 ERA to go along with a 3.58 FIP and 3.31 DRA. Walks are still an issue, as he’s handing out free passes to 14 percent of hitters, but he’s also striking out a career-high 29.6 percent of opponents. Glasnow’s home run rate (1.89 per nine innings a season ago) is down to 0.80 this season.
For the Pirates, it’s clear that with the addition of Archer they want to win now. We think. Giving up Meadows and Glasnow is a lot, and they still have one last player to part with later.
But Archer is under team control for the next three seasons after this one, and the most Pittsburgh will have to pay him is $11 million in 2021. That’s well below market value for a pitcher of Archer’s caliber. That said, the former Rays’ ace is in the middle of a funky year — 4.31 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 4.49 DRA. And over the past two seasons, he’s getting hit harder than ever before. His hard hit rate sat at 31.3 percent between 2012 and 2016. Over the past two seasons, it’s climbed to 39.8 percent. We could say getting out of the AL East helps, but Archer didn’t have much difficulty navigating those waters before 2016, so…
Still, he can be very special for the Pirates over the next 3.5 seasons. Coupling this with the acquisition of reliever Keone Kela makes it clear that the Pittsburgh is pushing to make the playoffs this season. As it stands, they’re 55-52 and seven games out of first in the NL Central. They are just 3.5 games out of the wild card spot.
Will Archer and Kela be enough to get them there?