Less than an hour before Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off a shocker.
The Bucs made the biggest move of the deadline, landing Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer. The Pirates sent former top prospects Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows to Tampa Bay in the deal, in addition to a player-to-be-named-later.
However, this player apparently isn't a typical player-to-be-named-later. Unlike the usual low-level, unknown prospect, it sounds like the Rays will be getting a notable piece in the future.
The player to be named in the Chris Archer trade, according to a #Rays official, is hardly a throw-in or fringe prospect. It's a player of significant value.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 31, 2018
Before getting into the prospects who could be the final piece of the deal, lets take a look at who won’t be included in the deal.
Three years ago, this would be a different story.
However, following the 2014 Wil Myers trade between the Padres, Rays and Nationals that saw Trea Turner, a Top-10 draft pick just six months before, knowingly labeled as the PTBNL because of the rule that draft picks cannot be traded until a full year since the signing of their first contract, the rule was changed. Now, draft picks cannot be the PTBNL in any deal, and cannot be dealt until the day after the World Series. This eliminates Swaggerty, and any other 2018 Pirates draft pick from being the player-to-be-named-later.
The Pirates other two players dealt to Tampa Bay are no longer prospects. It’s highly unlikely that both the Rays or Pirates would want to include a third non-prospect. Additionally, its been noted previously that the final player in the deal is a guaranteed prospect. Not a major leaguer. This eliminates Bell, Jung-Ho Kang, or any other Pirates player that is no longer a prospect.
Honorable Mention: Mitch Keller
Keller can be in the deal. There are no rules preventing the Pirates top prospect from being in the deal. However, its extremely unlikely that the Pirates would deal Keller in any deal, especially after giving up their former top pitching and hitting prospects.
Now that we've talked about the players who won't be in the deal, lets dive into three candidates to be the final piece of the deal.
Drafted 12th-overall in the 2017 draft out of Concordia Lutheran High School in Texas, Shane Baz has really struggled in his first full professional season. The 19-year old right-hander currently has a 5.05 ERA in eight starts in Rookie Ball, but has flashed some electricity, striking out 42 in 35.2 innings. John ranked Baz as the Pirates fifth-ranked prospect back in February, and had this to say about the young righty;
The only thing in the way of Baz’ inclusion in the deal is his youth. The Pirates might not be willing to part with a draft pick as recent as last year, especially someone with the upside of Baz. However, the Rays would want him for those exact same reasons: youth and upside.
Another former first rounder, Pirates second-ranked prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes was selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. The 21-year old third baseman is hitting .285 in Double-A, slugging 39 extra-base hits on the season. John had Hayes ranked right behind Baz at six on the Pirates preseason Top-20 prospects list, and had this to say him:
Hayes would be the clear replacement for Evan Longoria at third base, joining a crowded coup of young Rays infield prospects. His upside, power, and somewhat-readiness would certainly make Hayes an appealing target of the Rays.
The least-known of the three, Oniel Cruz probably best fits the Rays desire as a toolsy, versatile breakout player. Acquired from the Dodgers in last season’s Tony Watson trade, Cruz has had a huge 2018 season, hitting .293 with 13 home runs, seven triples and 24 (!!) doubles in 379 at-bats in Single-A. John had Cruz ranked as the Pirates 15th-ranked prospect back in February, and had this to say about him:
The only problem in the Rays acquiring Cruz is the fact that he currently plays shortstop, the same position that Willy Adames, the Rays top prospect, and Wander Franco, another elite Rays prospect, play. However, Cruz’ young age and arm strength project him to play anywhere from shortstop to right field. The Rays would be taking a chance on a breakout prospect, but need a home run after a pretty weak initial return.