Buyer Beware: Avoiding a Chris Archer Trade
Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsPittsburgh sat with a 56-52 record on July 31, 2018. This was good enough for third in their division and they were trailing multiple teams for a Wild Card spot. Being on the outside looking in, didn’t stop them from making a franchise altering trade. The Pirates wanted right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, so they went and got him. Spoiler alert… Pittsburgh would finish fourth in their own division last season.
During his last three seasons in Tampa, Archer posted a 3.77 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP while averaging 245 strikeouts and 205 innings per season. He had one top-5 finish for the AL Cy Young and he represented the Rays in the 2015 and 2017 MLB All-Star Game. He was a workhorse as he led the AL in games started in both of his All-Star campaigns.
Archer had seemed to be on the trade block for multiple seasons because Tampa Bay had him signed to a team friendly deal and the two-time All-Star might not have a higher value. Because of their market, the Rays are forced to part with players as their contract costs rise. Tampa has been able to flourish through strong scouting and thinking outside of the box.
Tampa certainly knew what they were doing when they dealt Archer for a package that included Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz. Meadows was elected to his first All-Star Game this season after hitting .289/.364/.502 in the first half with 30 extra-base hits including 12 homers. He currently looks like the biggest piece of the trade for Tampa, but both pitchers could still turn out to be very good.
Glasnow has an injury history including currently being on the IL with a right forearm strain. In his eight starts (48 1/3 innings) since being dealt, he has a 1.86 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and 55 strikeouts and 9 walks. Fans might remember Baz’s name because he was one of the top prospects in the 2017 Draft, when the Twins had the first pick. He’s pitching in the Midwest League and has a 3.45 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 10 starts.
Since being traded, Archer has not been the same pitcher that he was in Tampa. He has a brutal 4.97 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 143 innings. His strikeout rate has gone up from 9.7 K/9 in Tampa to 10.4 K/9 in Pittsburgh, but his walk rate has also increased (2.9 to 4.0 BB/9). He’s giving up home runs at almost twice the rate and one of the biggest concerns might be the amount of hard contact he is giving up. His 12.3 Barrel % is in the bottom 4% of the NL.
So how can the Twins avoid an Archer style fleecing by another club?
In all reality, it’s rarely known this quickly after a trade if one team has gained a significant advantage. Meadows was a consensus top-50 prospect for most of his professional career. In comparison, Minnesota’s closest prospect might be Alex Kirilloff. It seems likely that Kirilloff is on a short list of prospects that Minnesota wouldn’t be willing to trade unless they were floored by a deal.
The Twins might not have a comparable pitcher in their farm system to Glasnow. Entering the 2017 season, he was ranked in the top-25 prospects in baseball by all three major rankings and he was big league ready at the time of the trade. Someone like Jordan Balazovic might be the closest as he continues to rise in prospect rankings. He, like Glasnow, was a fifth-round pick, but he isn’t close to being big league ready.
Few saw this kind of drop-off coming for Archer and that’s what can happen with some of the big deals that will happen before next week. Back in 2016, Cubs fans saw their club deal future All-Star Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman and the Cubs went on to win the World Series and he returned to New York that winter as a free agent.
My guess is Cubs fans will take the World Series flag flying over Wrigley instead of having Torres in the middle of their infield.
What are your thoughts as the Twins become buyers? How can they avoid an Archer deal? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- mikelink45, dbminn and jz7233 like this