This is part two of a three-part series discussing the most unfavorable trades of 2018. When the Pirates traded away Auston Meadows and Tyler Glasnow to the Rays for Chris Archer it shocked the world. The Pirates were still three and a half games out of the wild card and it looked like they would need more than one piece to get back into it. Archer had a 4.31 ERA at the time of the trade, leading many to believe the Rays had missed their opportunity to sell high on Archer. Boy was everyone wrong about that. At the time the baseball world knew the Pirates had just given up more assets to acquire Archer than they had gotten for their longtime ace Gerrit Cole. Gerrit Cole’s potential was always higher than Archer’s and both pitchers had their ups and downs throughout their career but almost everyone thought Cole would end up being the better pitcher when all was said and done. Since Archer came to Pittsburgh he has posted a 4.92 era and has looked like a shell of the Chris Archer everyone knew from the Rays. This has led many to believe the Rays knew something was potentially wrong with Archer. The Pirates did not make the playoffs in 2018 and looked like a disaster in 2019 only winning 69 games. The Pirates look like they are headed into a full rebuild so unless Archer regains some trade value this trade could go down as one of the worst in Pirates history. Surprisingly the Rays had gone and traded for Tommy Pham on that day despite being out of the race. Pham was an outfielder in his late 20s, so it is surprising that they would trade for him the same day they traded away their staff ace. The Pham trade signaled the Rays wanted to compete while many thought the Archer deal meant the Rays may be rebuilding. In the Archer trade however, The Rays actually picked up two prospects that were very close to the majors. Despite various injuries Auston Meadows had hit and hit for power his entire minor league career. He was a former 9th overall pick and once he got healthy he moved quickly to the major leagues and has been even better than many people anticipated. He has a career .888 OPS and 39 home runs in just 197 games. He has been the rays most complete hitter since arriving there and, with Tommy Pham being traded to the Padres, this year Meadows will be counted on even more going forward. The Rays kept him in the minors once they received him even though the Pirates had brought him up and he had hit .292 in a 49-game sample there. He only played 110 regular season games for the Rays that season and never had a chance to get going. I knew he was the best player on that team in 2018 and in 2019. I have been following Meadows since he appeared in the Under Armour All American Game and everyone was talking about him and Clint Frazier.
Prior to his arrival in 2017 Tyler Glasnow was nearly unhittable in the minor leagues. He had trouble with his control and command at times but when it was on there was almost nothing any hitter could do about it. In 2016 he posted a 1.93 ERA in double and triple-A. While he did struggle at the big-league level from 2016-2018 everyone knew if he figured it out he could be one of the best starters in baseball. Not many pitchers have a 6-8 frame and the stuff that Glasnow does. While Meadows alone has already provided more value to the Rays than Archer has to the Pirates, Glasnow showed that big things could be coming from him to as he posted a 1.78 ERA in 2019 before getting injured. The Rays won 96 games in 2019 and look poised to be a contender for the foreseeable future led by Meadows and Glasnow. This trade was a clear win for the Rays and this could get even more lopsided in the future if 2019 is any indication for what the future holds. The Pirates ended up cleaning house shortly after this trade and bringing in a new front office. The Rays on the other hand have two foundational players to build around for the foreseeable future.