The Houston Astros are on the verge of acquiring starter Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It has been a historically slow offseason for most MLB teams and free agents, but the Houston Astros quickly pulled together a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole. The deal comes only a few days after owner Jim Crane went on the record saying his front office was working on acquiring a top starting pitcher.
The prospects changing hands in the deal are still unknown, but outfielder Derek Fisher was one of the names being discussed initially. The Astros and Pirates were also discussing outfielder Kyle Tucker, but top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley was believed to be untouchable according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. With a star-studded outfield that features George Springer and Josh Reddick, the Astros are dealing from a surplus of talent. It’s less clear how badly the Pirates need outfield prospects given the presence of Austin Meadows, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.
Cole is coming off a season where he posted a 12-12 record with a 4.26 ERA. His home-run rate spiked dramatically to 1.4 per nine after allowing 0.6 per nine for the first four years of his career. Cole did top 200 innings for the second time in 2017 and also saw his strikeout numbers tick back up close to one per inning. He is now two years removed from making his first All-Star Game and has looked less like a future number-one starter, but is still cost-controlled for two years and has good rebound potential in the middle of a strong rotation.
This trade is the latest in a series of aggressive, focused moves by the Astros. This is one analytically-minded organization that works quickly with cold, calculated precision. Cole completes a very strong rotation behind Justin Verlander and provides insurance should Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers struggle with injuries again next season. As for the Pirates, a full rebuild could soon follow with stars Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison up next on the trade block.