Houston Actually Acquires Gerrit Cole This Time

The Pirates receive some useful assets for their ace, although no top prospect. (Photo: Jon Dawson)

Gerrit Cole was reportedly traded to the Astros earlier this week. I wrote about that hypothetical move in greater length here and why Cole might fit well with Houston.

I wrote earlier this offseason that the Pirates ought to trade Cole. The Pirates are re-tooling to some degree, while the Astros are a World Series contender that has been motivated to find a starting pitcher. It makes sense for both parties.

Well, the deal has apparently happened this time…

While Cole has been an uneven performer since his fifth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting back in 2015, the quality of the return might be regarded as uneven in its own way.

The Pirates were unable to pry away Gleyber Torres from the Yankees in exchange for Cole. From Houston, they were ultimately unable to land a top prospect like right-handed pitcher Forrest Whitley or outfielder Kyle Tucker, either.

En route to Pittsburgh is former prospect Joe Musgrove, who has produced a 4.52 ERA/4.31 ERA in 171 major-league innings. Musgrove is accompanied by Michael Feliz, who has missed bats as a reliever but has a 5.12 ERA in 112 major-league innings, and Colin Moran, a borderline top-10 prospect in the Astors system.

The Pirates landed some useful assets, but they appeared to be unable to land a high-end impact prospect for their ace, their No. 1 pick from the 2011 draft. Cole has two years of club control remaining before entering free agency.

Jeff and Eno will have more on this deal in the following days. While it made sense for the Pirates to deal Cole this winter, this appears to be a favorable deal for Houston.

Cole has been an uneven performer, and there’s a chance the Astros get more out of him, get him to move away from his fastball. The Astros likely got better, acquiring a potential top-of-the-rotation arm without giving up a future significant asset.





A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

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james123
4 years ago

Rumor was the Yankees were offering Frazier/Adams. The reporting on Cole has been sort of all over the place, so who knows what to believe. But you’d have to think that was never on the table.

MonkeyEpoxy
4 years ago
Reply to  james123

Read from Heyman that the Pirates were insistent on Andujar

james123
4 years ago
Reply to  MonkeyEpoxy

I thought he said that they wanted either Frazier OR Andujar. But again, the reporting in this whole saga has been inaccurate, so nobody really knows.

Paul22
4 years ago
Reply to  james123

Yeah, they agreed to that supposedly, presumably after they backed off on Torres, it was the other pieces they did not agree on. But who knows

Paul22
4 years ago
Reply to  MonkeyEpoxy

Sure, maybe initially. I am sure they were insistent on Houstons top prospects too. One kept at it, the other gave up on any deal. The team that didnt quit got the prize. Although it might be a prize not as nice as its packaging

sadtrombonemember
4 years ago
Reply to  james123

Latest word is the Yankees were willing to give up Frazier or Adams and not both. They also wouldn’t discuss Andujar, or Sheffield, or Florial, and definitely not Torres.

So I’m a little surprised the Pirates couldn’t get more interest, or didn’t just take their ball and go home. But what this says about the Yankees is that they think Frazier (and likely Adams too) have no place to go at the major league level, are willing to shop them for an upgrade, but didn’t feel that starting pitching was a big enough need to include both.