The World Series champion Houston Astros have boosted their rotation with another big arm, acquiring Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a five-player trade. The deal was announced Saturday. In exchange, the Pirates received right-handers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin. Cole, 27, went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA, 196 strikeouts and 55 walks while making a career-high 33 starts in 2017. On Friday, Cole and the Pirates reached agreement on a one-year contract worth $6.75 million. He had one year of arbitration remaining and was likely to command a huge raise in 2019, one of the reasons the Pirates had considered trading him.

Before sending Cole to Houston, the Pirates had held extensive trade talks with the New York Yankees this winter. But sources familiar with the discussions told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that New York held the line on including prospects Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial or Miguel Andujar in any trade, so the Pirates quickly had to shift their attention to other potential targets. One source said New York expressed a willingness to include outfielder Clint Frazier or pitcher Chance Adams in a package deal for Cole, but not both.

Similarly, Houston prospects Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher and Yordan Alvarez were off the table in general manager Jeff Luhnow’s discussions with Huntington, sources said. The Pirates ultimately made the determination that the Musgrove-Moran tandem was superior to the top two players offered by the Yankees and other clubs that had expressed interest in Cole. The Pirates also have a combined 15 years of team control with Moran, Musgrove and Feliz before they’re eligible for free agency, compared to the two remaining years of control they had with Cole. That was an additional factor that weighed into their decision to accept Houston’s offer, a source said.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Cole finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting in 2015 and made the All-Star team, but the right-hander was much less effective in his other four seasons. He put up career lows in several categories last season, including ERA, home run rate and FIP. Luhnow said he thinks pitching coach Brent Strom can help Cole recapture his 2015 form.

The Astros are adding Cole to a rotation that ranked sixth in the majors last season in ERA, WHIP, strikeout percentage and opponent batting average, according to ESPN Stats & Information. While Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr. and Brad Peacock all had varying degrees of success last season, the Astros could use a consistent third starter behind Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander.

Musgrove could take over Cole’s spot in the Pirates’ rotation. The 25-year-old started 15 games for the Astros in 2017, posting a 4.77 ERA. He made seven relief appearances in the postseason and earned the win in Game 5 of the World Series after throwing one scoreless inning.

Moran is the nephew of former major leaguer B.J. Surhoff and could become a similar type of hitter, with high batting averages but only some power from the left side. The 25-year-old has been a career .290 hitter in the minor leagues since Miami selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft. Houston acquired the third baseman in a deal for pitcher Jarred Cosart and infielder Enrique Hernandez in 2014, and Moran took a step forward last season by hitting 18 home runs for Triple-A Fresno. Moran has primarily been a third baseman, though he has also played first base and left field. He was blocked at the hot corner in Houston by young slugger Alex Bregman but could pilfer at-bats from David Freese in Pittsburgh.

Feliz is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who struck out 13.13 batters per nine innings in 46 appearances last season. Despite that, he had a 5.63 ERA in part because of subpar control. Martin is a left-handed-hitting outfielder who was selected in the eighth round of the 2013 draft. The 22-year-old batted .278 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases last season split between Class A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi.

Related Posts:




You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment