It's Time For the Media and Pirate Fans to Move On from the Chris Archer Trade

At this point in the baseball season, it's pretty quiet on the Pittsburgh Pirates front.  As is the case in late September for several years now, the Pirates have been eliminated from playoff contention and interest from their fans is almost as low as it can be.  However, events that occurred on Monday night caught the attention of us dispirited fans, once again reminding us of a trade that will haunt us until the end of our days.

On Monday night, 22 year old Shane Baz made his major league debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.  He finished the game with a stat line of 5 innings pitched, 2 hits, 2 earned runs and 5 strikeouts, while securing the win.  

Pirates fans are probably (infuriatingly) familiar with Baz, but if you aren't, he was the "player to be named later" in the now infamous 2018 trade that sent outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow to the Rays for pitcher Chris Archer.  Baz was selected in the first round of the 2017 draft as the 12th overall pick.  When he was sent to Tampa Bay in 2018, he was considered the 3rd best prospect in the Pirates organization.  

More often than not, the "player to be named later" in these types of trades is simply a "throw-in" player.  But when Baz was announced as the PLTBNL, it certainly felt like he was much more valuable than a "throw-in".  And he has proven as much in 2021, skyrocketing up the minor leagues, while also pitching in the MLB Futures All-Star game and for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

The Trade: Then vs Now


At the time of the trade, it felt like an overpay for the Pirates but not to the magnitude it does today.  Glasnow had always been hyped as having the talent to be a top-end starter but he showed a lack of command start after start with the Pirates that became infuriating to watch at times. Meadows had been in the majors for a short period of time at that point and he was showing flashes of being a very competent outfielder that displayed both power and speed offensively.  

It was an unusual deal for a Pirates organization that had been known to covet their prospects and showed opposition to making big, splashy moves of this nature.  However, the fans had been clamoring for a move of this kind after watching highly touted prospects fail time and time again once they made it to the big leagues.  Therefore, fans were excited at the time of the trade and OK with relinquishing pieces of the team's future if it meant winning in the present.


The above tweet from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jason Mackey, accompanied with Baz's debut, is what has stirred up the emotions once again for Pirates fans.  We've become very accustomed to hearing about former Pirates succeeding on their new teams following their departure.  But this trade lives entirely on a level of its own.  So to see tweets like this is just kicking a guy when he's already down.  

Who knows if this statement is factual or not - it's easy to say that kind of thing after seeing how the trade panned out, but who knows how true it actually was at the time of the deal.  And frankly, I don't think I really want to know if it was or not.  What we do know for a fact is Archer was an utter disappointment for the Pirates.  He seems like a great guy off the field who did a lot for the community while here, but the play on the field never lived up to the hype.  Especially at the price it cost the organization and its future.  

During his two-year tenure here, Archer finished his career as a Pirate with a 6-12 record and 4.92 ERA over 33 starts, missing all of 2020 due to thoracic surgery.  He was brought in in 2018 to help the team make a run for the playoffs but the team went a lackluster 26-27 after the trade to finish the season outside of the playoffs.  Those are things I know to be true of the trade and that's where it ends for me.


I could go into further detail about how successful the three players sent to Tampa Bay have been since the trade was made, but I don't want to agonize myself and all of you other Pirates fans any more than I already have.  The main point I want to make about this entire situation is that it's time to let it go.  It will inevitably go down as one of the worst trades in both Major League Baseball and Pittsburgh Pirates history that we will have the misfortune of reliving many times over in the future.  

But it's time to put that in the rearview mirror and just accept it for what it is.  That deal was made by then-General Manager Neal Huntington, for reasons we may never know, only a year before he was relieved of his duties.  We are now under a new regime in Pittsburgh, with General Manager Ben Cherington at the helm.  Cherington seems to be leading the team in a positive direction and making moves that have been beneficial thus far, especially when you consider the team he inherited from Huntington.  

The team won't be pushing for a World Series title any time soon but he's making baby steps to inch us closer to that one day happening (hopefully).  The types of tweets we saw yesterday will undoubtedly pop up from time to time but it's important for us as Pirates fans to move on from them.  The past is the past and we have to look at the greener pastures ahead, even if those pastures are a tiny blip far, far off in the distance.