The Pittsburgh Pirates Have Reportedly Agreed To Trade Gerrit Cole To The Houston Astros (Just Kidding It's Now Being Called A "False Rumor")

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants

There are conflicting reports in regards to whether or not this is actually happening, so let’s just operate under the idea that this is, in fact, happening.

What’s better than winning the World Series? Winning the World Series and then getting better that offseason to defend your title. The reports are still coming in, so we don’t know who’s headed to Pittsburgh just yet, but right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole is reportedly going to Houston to form one hell of a three-headed monster for the Astros. A clear number one in Pittsburgh, Astros manager AJ Hinch will have to decide where Cole fits in among the likes of former Cy Young award winners Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel atop Houston’s rotation.

My guess is that he’ll be their number three, which speaks to how strong Houston’s starting pitching has become just over the last six months alone. And that’s without even mentioning guys like Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh, who combined to make 80 starts for the Astros last year with a 3.59 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 10.12 K/9. The rich get richer, indeed.

The addition of Cole doesn’t come without question, though. Like, how will he adjust to pitching in the American League? A lifelong National League guy, there’s often an adjustment period when switching from the NL to the AL, even for some of the game’s best pitchers. How will he hold up injury-wise? Cole has been in the league for five years, and he’s made 30 starts just twice, eclipsing 200 innings in both of those seasons. He’s averaged 20.6 starts per year in the other three seasons. One of those 30-start, 200-inning seasons was this past year, but he also posted a career-worst 4.26 ERA, his highest mark of home runs allowed per nine innings (1.4), and a career-worst FIP (4.08).

The Astros are obviously hoping that Cole’s 2017 season was an outlier, as he’s got a career ERA of 3.50 and a WHIP of 1.22, so the larger sample has been quite good. He’ll be under team control for two more seasons before reaching free agency, and if you’re an Astros fan wondering if an extension could be coming to justify whatever Houston had to give up to acquire him, it’s important to note that Cole is a client of Scott Boras, which means, no. No, that’s probably not happening, and he’ll become a free agent in two years.

The addition of Cole also fills a void in Houston’s rotation for 2019 that’ll be left if and when Keuchel leaves via free agency. But until that happens, the Astros will get to stake claim to having one of the best rotations in baseball, assuming this deal actually goes down.

UPDATE: This is now being called a “false rumor”, which is wild because Jon Morosi is one of the top baseball reporters in the game. This wasn’t some random schlub on Twitter who heard from somebody who heard from somebody. Ken Rosenthal reported that this deal was “close”, too. Very strange that arguably the top two baseball reporters out there had this deal as being “close” and that an agreement had been reached, yet it’s all supposedly fake news. Hm.