With the non-waiver trade deadline less than an hour away, Pirates players sat in the home clubhouse Tuesday afternoon refreshing the Twitter feed on their phones. Fourteen hours earlier, while many of them were sleeping, Neal Huntington was putting the finishing touches on a trade to acquire reliever Keone Kela from the Rangers in exchange for pitching prospect Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later.
"It's something we've been waiting for," Joe Musgrove, who pitched against Kela while a member of the Astros, said while scrolling through Twitter. Then, minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline, news broke of the Pirates acquiring Chris Archer.
An expletive was shouted in the clubhouse during Clint Hurdle's pregame media availability. Tyler Glasnow ducked out of the room. Austin Meadows hadn't been informed of a trade. In the end, both were headed to Tampa, and Huntington swiftly made his biggest trade deadline splash hours before the Pirates beat the Cubs, 5-4, at PNC Park to draw within six games in the Central Division.
Yet, it was only three weeks ago that Huntington was ready to pull the plug on 2018.
"It certainly pushed us in this direction we’re in today," Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, said Tuesday afternoon of the club's unprecedented success in July.