The Houston Astros fleeced the Pittsburgh Pirates for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
Reports circulated earlier this week that the Houston Astros were targeting a starting pitcher. Then more reports began to circulate that the Astros had completed a trade for Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, but then those reports were determined to be false.
After a false start, now the deal is official and Cole has been traded to Pittsburgh for four players. The deal was first reported by Yahoo’s Tim Brown.
Houston is sending pitcher Joe Musgrove and third baseman Colin Moran as the principle members of the deal. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports Michael Feliz and Jason Martin completed the package headed to the Pirates.
This is a huge trade for the reigning World Series champion Astros who land another frontline starter to the rotation that already includes Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Cole, a former No. 1 overall draft pick was an All-Star in 2015 when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young vote after going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts.
That remains his best year as he’s managed to only win 19 games the last two years combined. Cole is 19-22 the last two years for the Pirates and while win-loss records for pitchers don’t tell the entire story, his other periphel stars to.
Cole’s ERA was 3.88 in 2016 and 4.26 last year, the two highest marks of his career for the 26-year-old right-hander. Most troublesome are the 31 home runs given up, which is more than the previous three years combined when he allowed a total of 29. His walk rate has also increased the last two years. Going from PNC Park to Houston’s hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park could result in Cole continuing to have issues with the long ball.
However, what should be beneficial is Cole won’t have all the pressure following him from Pittsburgh to Houston. With the Pirates, Cole had to be the ace and nearly perfect every game to have a chance to get his team the win. With the Astros, Cole has a potent lineup with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa leading the way and he can safely slot into the No. 3 spot in the rotation.
This is a win for the Astros and for Cole and a clear sign the Pirates are beginning to rebuild. It won’t be surprising to see them finally pull the trigger on an Andrew McCutchen trade which has been rumored for the better part of the last two years.