Most lopsided trade ever?

A bone fide fleecing, at the very least.

Austin Meadows watches yet another homerun sail into the seats. He and Tyler Glasnow have been an unstoppable duo for the Rays.

Austin Meadows watches yet another homerun sail into the seats. He and Tyler Glasnow have been an unstoppable duo for the Rays.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

On July 31st, 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays made a move that would greatly alter the future of their franchise. They dealt starting pitcher Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Austin Meadows, and pitching prospect Shane Baz. Although everyone is now aware of the highway robbery Tampa Bay pulled off, many people slept on this trade initially and even called Pittsburgh the winners of the deal. This is likely because the three players the Rays received were relatively unknown, compared to Archer, who was a two time All-Star and one of the only Rays players to be well-known nationally. It’s safe to say that the baseball world knows the names Glasnow and Meadows now, as they have torn up the competition and been the driving forces behind Tampa Bay’s MLB-best 14-4 start.

Tyler Glasnow showed glimpses of reaching his elite potential after being moved to St. Pete last year, but his dominance thus far in 2019 has been nothing short of stunning. Through four starts, the righty is a dazzling 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 24 strikeouts across 24 innings. Any command and consistency issues he had in Pittsburgh are now a distant memory, as the 6’8” flamethrower has been absolutely lights-out. Along with his fastball, which has clocked in at 97 mph, Glasnow has also made hitters look silly with a nasty curveball. Although Glasnow is bound to regress, lest he put up the greatest season for a pitcher in MLB history, he has showed a ceiling of being Cy Young caliber and has the kind of stuff and confidence to remain successful across a full season.

With how impressive Tyler Glasnow has been, it says something that Austin Meadows’ start to 2019 may be even more impressive. He began the Rays’ season with a literal bang, hitting a leadoff homerun on Opening Day, but that proved to only be the beginning of his tear. Meadows enters play on April 18th with an astounding .349 batting average, six homeruns, and 17 RBIs. Not to mention, no one in the American League was better than Meadows during the week of April 8-14, as he earned Player of the Week honors. Across those six games, he hit .545 with four bombs and 12 RBIs, highlighted by a two-homer game in Toronto on April 12th. His power was on full display on the second of those long balls, which travelled 436 feet and landed in the 500 level at the Rogers Centre. Meadows just may be the superstar bat the Rays have been lacking since their inception.

Truth be told, in hindsight, the Rays likely would’ve taken a one-for-one deal involving Archer for either Glasnow or Meadows. Even Baz, who was just a “player to be named later” in the original trade announcement, is a quality piece and is currently the ninth ranked prospect in a deep Rays farm system. The fact that Rays general manager Erik Neander was able to land all three for Archer is astounding. With no disrespect to Archer, he is an above average at best pitcher, who hasn’t had an ERA under four since 2015 and isn’t capable of giving a manager deep outings. He has shown signs of improvement early in 2019, but unless he wins the Cy Young and leads the Pirates to the postseason it is hard to call this trade anything but a fleecing. Meadows and Glasnow have the Rays up five and a half games in the AL East and are poised to lead the team back to the postseason and beyond.