The Pittsburgh Pirates, a “small-market” MLB team whose owner prefers hoarding his money to spending it on good players, actually made a deal today to improve the team. I know, right?! These scrappy little tightwad nobodies acquired an honest-to-gosh name people have heard of in Rays starter Chris Archer, giving up some younger, cheaper guys in the process. This is a stunning move for a teensy team with an estimated revenue of just $258 million, as Jon Heyman notes encouragingly:
The Pirates—who found themselves overwhelmed by the talents of Gerrit Cole and gave him away in a one-sided deal with Houston during the offseason as part of a half-assed, money-saving “rebuilding” project—are now getting in Archer a guy who was at least the ace-by-default during his last days with Tampa Bay, putting up a 1.7 WAR and 3.62 FIP so far in a slightly down year. It might seem like bad logic for a pro baseball team to willingly part with a top-tier starter for peanuts in the winter, only to suddenly play the win-now game by picking up a second-tier starter in the summer. But really, a team forced to play within the financial limitations of a rural small town like Pittsburgh deserves applause just for trying.
The Pirates are still seven games out of their division but sit at an admirable fourth place in the race for the second wild card spot. If you just believe hard enough, this adorable little squad actually could earn themselves the opportunity to lose an October play-in game in Milwaukee. And now that Archer forms a partnership with bargain-priced starter Jameson Taillon, they have two pitchers who are better than average in their rotation. Good for them! With a little more moxie, they could one day be just like a real ball club!