Williams: It’s Too Early to Discuss Trading Gerrit Cole

This is my ninth season covering the Pirates while running this site. For the majority of that time, the site was free, relying on revenue from advertising, which was reliant on page views. The way that process works is that ad networks and sponsors pay $X for every 1,000 page views. And then the incentive is to maximize the amount of views to maximize revenue. This often leads to trouble.

Because page views were the primary source of revenue, I studied every article to see what types of articles received the most views, and what types weren’t worth our time. I always tried to avoid writing for page views, creating a policy where we would only write about a trade related article if there was an actual move, or a legit rumor connected to the deal.

Trade articles are by far the most read articles. There’s something about seeing the word “trade” in a headline that leads to an instant click. It’s why you see so many sites falling into the trap where they write about players who could be trade targets for a team, or players who could be traded away. It’s an easy article to write, and typically is free of responsibility, since it’s only speculation or a wish list of the author. The problem is that trade rumors are a game of telephone. One person says they’d like to see Team A trade for Player B, and then it doesn’t take long for fans of Team B to start talking as if Player B is getting shopped.

The reason I bring all of this up is due to an article written last week out of New York. I’m not linking to the article, since I don’t want to support it, but the basis was that the Yankees are looking for a pitcher now that they’re contenders, and they could trade for Gerrit Cole. It’s your typical “The Yankees are contenders, so your team will be forced to give them whatever player they want, as it is every team’s duty to give the Yankees what they want” article. Never mind that the Pirates aren’t interested at all in trading Cole. That Yankees writer wants to see it happen, so he wrote an article as if it’s up to the Yankees to decide if they want Cole.

And if you’re thinking “Well, maybe the Pirates would trade Cole” and starting to find reasons why they could deal him, then the game of telephone has begun. The idea that the Pirates would shop Cole this year becomes normalized with that process, even though it all started with a clickbait story. If you’re wondering whether the Pirates are even considering it, then Neal Huntington’s remarks about the article and the topic will put your mind at ease.

“I haven’t seen it, so I don’t care,” Huntington said when asked about the article this past Sunday. He later added: “Our expectation is that Gerrit is going to be a Pirate for a while.”

The Pirates have Cole under team control through the 2019 season. He’s a Scott Boras client, so it’s extremely doubtful that they’re going to extend him beyond that time frame. And that’s going to lead to speculation that they will eventually try to trade him to maximize the return. This leads to some extreme guesses that would put Cole being traded this year, with 2.5 years of service time remaining to get a massive haul. But that doesn’t really fit what the Pirates have done in previous situations like this.

First of all, the Pirates haven’t really been in this situation often. They haven’t been in a situation where they’ve been contenders, and could still contend going forward, but also have free agents departing with no easy replacement. They traded Neil Walker with a year of control remaining, but they had Josh Harrison ready to take over. They tried trading Andrew McCutchen this offseason, with Austin Meadows waiting in the wings, and rumors that they were going after an outfielder in the short-term. They traded Mark Melancon with two months remaining on his deal, which made sense, as they weren’t contending and wanted to maximize their return.

McCutchen was the only guy who they tried to deal with more than a year of service time, and that was a case where a replacement was in the wings. There was also the concern that he would struggle going forward, and those concerns are looking to be legit right now. Cole, on the other hand, isn’t struggling. He has a 3.14 ERA and a 3.31 xFIP, which is right around where his career numbers lie. He ranks 25th in both ERA and xFIP among 185 qualified pitchers since coming up in 2013.

The Pirates have never had a situation like this, where they have one of the better pitchers in baseball pitching like one of the better pitchers in baseball, with two-plus years of control remaining. The rotation isn’t like other positions either. If Tyler Glasnow figures it out, you could trade Cole and still have a big three of Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova. But why not have Cole with that group? If Mitch Keller continues his progression and arrives in mid-2018, you could deal Cole in his final year. But why not have him in the group?

At what point does a team like the Pirates trade Cole? Suggesting that they would only deal him based on how many years of control they have remaining is not really considering all of the factors in this situation. And yet, I don’t think you can assume that they would keep him for the long-term and let him walk as a free agent with a return of draft pick compensation. It’s not impossible that they trade him this year. It’s not impossible that they keep him until he’s a free agent. It’s just that both of those options are extremely improbable.

I don’t think it’s improbable to expect the Pirates to keep Cole and wait and see what happens in the next year or two. Teams still get a pretty big return for pitchers in their final year, or even for their final two months. And a lot can happen in two-plus years. That could be enough time for Glasnow to develop, Keller to come up, and/or guys like Clay Holmes, Tyler Eppler, Gage Hinsz, or Taylor Hearn to join the rotation. This all comes with the obvious disclaimer that no prospect is guaranteed to work out. The Pirates do have some time to see what will happen with their top starting pitching prospects, and no reason to trade Cole right now. So I think it’s a bit premature to start talking about the end of his time with the organization.

The bigger takeaway here is that we’re entering trade rumor season, and the Pirates are losing. And when that combination happens, articles go up acting like the team will blow up the roster and trade anyone and everyone they can, just because that’s the job of a contender. The truth is, this just fuels websites looking for clicks. Unless it comes from a reliable source (we always go with people who would be mentioned on MLB Trade Rumors), just ignore those clickbait articles.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

119 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
thecrow124

Just want to take a second to point out that MLBTradeRumors had an article stating that if the Pirates are out of it at the traded deadline, many in the industry believe they will listen to offers on Cole. What does that mean you ask? Absolutely nothing, since any team out of contention has no choice but to listen on its star players. Its either that or don’t answer the phone.

buccofan

Don’t get me wrong, I like Cole a lot. But, if we have no chance of keeping him long term (which I think is the case), we should consider trading him when he is on top (rather than after a slide) and still has some years of control left. Remember Pedro?? I really wanted them to move him right after he led the league in homers. Instead, we held on until his value and years of control declined and we got nothing in return.

bucsws2014

In keeping Cole, the Bucs should have the best pitching staff they’ve ever assembled in 2018: Cole, Nova, Taillon, Kingham, Glasnow, assuming no injuries.

Typically, posters here tend to side on the “no such thing as a window if you’re continually developing talent” position.

However, if you look at the upper levels, other than pitching and probably Meadows, there’s not much there. IMO, things are going to start turning much bleaker come 2021.

We are looking at an actual two-year window where we should expect great starting pitching (and Rivero closing). This is not your standard “Nutting is cheap” argument, but for 2018-2019, it would be a real shame if the FO wastes this opportunity by not trying to acquire the necessary offense and defense to support this wealth of pitching.

Todd Tomasic

As I said on the BD site Cole is going nowhere this season. A premium pitcher
goes during the off-season when talent return is at it’s greatest. If his numbers
hold out for the rest of 2017 we can get our pound of flesh.

Michael D

Good article, Tim. This kind of candid, industry-insider introspection is one of the many reasons people shouldn’t think twice about paying for the privilege to read this site.

candyfan

So much for rumors re: Cole. The real story here is the complete collapse of the Pirates this year? They were supposed to bounce back from an off year in 2016? The sad fact is even without the Marte drug disaster and the other lingering injuries to Freese, Frazier, Taillon, this team is TERRIBLE. Marginal players such as Jaso are hitting .200? Not ready for prime time players such as Polanco and Bell are not living up to their minor league hype?

The Pirates deserve to be in last place. And the so called vaunted minor league system may be full of pitchers, but there are no Anthony Rizzos or Kris Bryant’s coming up from the minor leagues. Even our best bet, Austin Meadows, has suddenly developed a case of no-hit?

This organization is in trouble. Other than pitching, Huntington has done a poor job of stocking the system with position players. When will somebody admit this, here or in the Pirates front office?

Thomas H

Exactly right

rjgrinde

Prediction: Cole is gone over the off-season. He would have been gone at this years trade deadline however the Taillon bomb threw a wrench in those plans.

BuccosFanStuckinMD

I don’t think the Taillon situation matters since this team will be a seller and not a buyer. If someone provides a haul of an offer, he can be traded anytime.

rich

Here’s an interesting hypothetical question (to me at least):

If the team we were trading Cole to had the identical talent that the Pirates had … and … you could get four total players in return:

– Three are from a pool of the Pirates’ top twenty prospects (Keller, Meadows, etc.) and/or MLB players with less than 1-year experience (Bell, Frazier, Glasnow, etc.)
– One from outside the top twenty

Who would they be and would it be enough to want you to trade Cole?

rich

I think the Cole Trade question has one main aspect: You trade him if you are very confidant that you are getting more value than he is worth. (This is probably true for any player that plays on a team with a limited budget.) The issue is basically in calculating values:
– Fangraphs has his WAR at 2.5 (SS), 2.3, 5.4, 2.5 (SS), and on his way to 2.4. So what is his average WAR? Seems like 2.4 with an outlier but including the outlier it would be more like 3.1.
– His salary is $3.75 million in 2017. What will it be in 2018 and 2019 – $7 and $11?
And in the cinfidence part:
– What would you be trading him for: proven MLB players? Or prospects? And if prospects – what level? We would be on the flip side of the Quintana trade. How happy would fans have been to get Glasnow, Meadows, and Newman in return for Cole? (Not very right now…)

If you just keep him through the 2019 season – we would most likely offer the one year and he would sign elsewhere giving as a comp pick in the 2020 draft. That would only happen if we are in a real pennant race in 2019 and he was still on the team.

ajax2448

Not sure how you get him being on pace for 2.4? I am pretty sure if you go off ZiPS which is what I assume you are going off he is projected to be at 3.0. And actually if he keeps the pace he is currently on that is going to go higher.

rich

Oops, you meant for 2017. I just multiplied his current WAR by 4 since he is about 25% through the year.

ajax2448

Oh ok. I was just curious because all the projectors they have on the site have him projected to be a 3+ win player this year.

rich

Keep in mind, he has only played one complete season out of the three he was a full time MLB starter. To me, he hasn’t proven that he can even do that yet.

rich

My 2.4 was his normal year up to this point, discounting his 2015 outlier. But my point was basically no GM is just going to bring up ZiPS and go with it. If it were that easy, everyone would know exactly what value a player will have in the future.

BuccosFanStuckinMD

In order to improve the team and system, the Pirates don’t have a lot of assets of value to trade or that they would be willing to trade. In my opinion, Cole is the one asset that the Pirates could give up (because of all their starting pitching depth) that could bring a big return. It is definitely NOT too early to consider trading him. He’s pitched pretty well this year, so his stock should be pretty high and marketable.

It all depends on what they could get in return. I’d be looking for 3 high-quality position player prospects – that play any of the following positions – shortstop, catcher, outfield, and third base. I’d want at least one who was major league ready now, with 1-2 who are in the A to AA levels. The Yankees need starting pitching, as do the Dodgers – both have the deep systems to be able to swing such a deal.

pierogieking

I’d rather see them trade Nova then Cole. Nova can bring in a nice haul at the deadline. Not saying they’re going to strike gold like the cubs, but he’s not that different then Jeff Samarja.

David N

I think I just spent several minutes reading an article about not trading Gerrit Cole, and I haven’t even gotten to the comments yet, which I fully intend to read ; )) so I see your point about click bait.

mouse

Well, Tim, if nothing else, you’ve at least proved one point – 73 comments before this one. Some of the entry level league articles are lucky to have five comments. That word “trade” does have appeal.

AW17

“This all comes with the obvious disclaimer that no prospect is guaranteed to work out.”

You probably don’t need to include this disclaimer since it’s common knowledge and is understood by everyone other than possibly two of your readers.

BigB2323

Not all major leaguers stay good either, see McCutchen. But the pitchforks will be out by July 31st when Mr. My Spot gets traded for something, doubt the return is even close to adequate. If one thing NH should be held accountable for is his ability to not sale high on players with a few years remaining. I understand the situation of being contenders but come two off-seasons ago I pushed for Liriano to be dealt by selling extremely high. When you are a small market team you constantly have to do that in my opinion, especially with older veteran players.

AW17

For sure. This is why NH is viewed locally as being the worst GM ever because he has failed to stock AAA with 4 MLB caliber starters at each position.

Thomas H

I don’t think that Neil Huntington is viewed locally as the worst GM ever. I think about 40% of fans love him to the point of ridiculousness, 50% hate him to the point of ridiculousness, and 10% don’t really care about him one way or the other. I’m not sure why he generates so many irrational feelings about him.

Ben E

Would you trade Cole who you won’t/can’t keep for what Gleybar Torres might become?

ajax2448

Well they would need more than Torres to consider trading Cole. I think the package would have to start at Torres and Frazier with more pieces.

jimmyz

Why not just extend him next offseason at 20 mil a year for 5 years? That way the entire rotation for the next 2-3 years consists of 27 million for Cole and Nova and three-ish million for the number 3-8 starters until arbitration starts for the guys on rookie contracts. With Polanco, Marte and Kang on reasonable contracts, JHay, Cervelli and Cutch off the books in the next couple of years and the rest of your team on rookie deals theres gotta be money for someone. Pay Cole and let him lead a staff that develops Taillon, Glasnow, Holmes, Eppler, Keller, Hearn, Hinsz, etc.

Mark G

Boris is not going to have Cole extemded. he will let him go to free agency, no matter what the Pirates offer.

ajax2448

Two Words: Scott Boras.

John W

If Cole is dominating(he has been his last 4 starts with his new and improved changeup) and healthy at deadline they should give serious consideration to dealing him for the right price.

I think you have to seriously think about cashing in if he happens to both be 1) pitching near peak level and 2) healthy.

Health should be no small concern with Cole. He missed significant time in 2014 and 2016. I see no reason to simply assume he will be healthy in 2018.

JustABitOutside

The logic behind not trading Cole is that the team will be competitive in 2018 or 2019. I don’t see that happening with this group of offensive players. This team, offensively, has been built around the outfield: Cutch, Polanco, and Marte. There is no way to know what to expect from Marte moving forward. Polanco has struggled mightily Cutch is in a career slide. If this continues, he might not even be an every day player.

I know people will quickly respond with, “Meadows is going to help!” but nobody can be certain of that at this point either. He is struggling in AAA.

Is anyone optimistic that the infield is going to produce key parts of a lineup that will compete (Even if Jung Ho ever figures out how to put the bottle down)?

So, in the best case scenario in which the rotation dominates in 2018-2019 (They are pretty good now), what evidence is there that this team will be competing for anything more than a WC spot? None. Why push back the build around Bell, Frazier, Glasnow, Taillon, (And hopefully Meadows)?

I know this isn’t popular, and I generally agree with everything Tim says, but I don’t see any reason to wait to build around the core group mentioned above. Trade Cole now for 3 elite prospects, trade Watson and Cervelli, and hope Freese comes back hitting well so you can trade him too.

Which direction realistically provides the more likely path to success in 2019?

Thomas H

I am against trading Cole too, but I think they need to add more than “a piece or two.” They are going to lose McCutchen soon, so if he returns to career norms it won’t be here. Kang may never be back. Assuming both of those things to be true, they need a good outfielder and good third baseman. I think they also need two or three bench players or to upgrade other positions to get back to being “contenders.” I don’t think they are close at all, but I do think if they play their cards right, with a dominant starting rotation, they could turn things around in a hurry. I just don’t see the rotation as being capable of being dominant without Cole in the short term.

JustABitOutside

Tim, this offense wasn’t great last year with Jung Ho Kang, Marte, and a better bench. Again, there is no reason to believe Marte is going to walk in the door and light the world on fire. He tested positive for a pretty strong steroid- I don’t think it is rational to believe this was his first experimentation with PEDs. Add the criticism that will plague him, and I don’t anticipate much.

The Pirates have not done as good of a job identifying hitters as they have pitchers. There is virtually no reason to believe the Bucs can add multiple pieces through FA/trades to contribute offensively. Even if they were to trade for an offensive player, or add a few pieces through their prospects list (And sure, by 2019, you may have Kramer/Newman/Meadows up- which of those do we think will light the world on fire from day one?), who do you move, and to where? The Pirates have a lot of their future payroll tied up in Polanco, Marte, and Cutch. None of them are performing. In the infield, the only player with any power is Bell. With the additions from the farm, all you would have is a crowded infield with no power (Mercer, Harrison, Newman, Kramer, Hanson?, Ngope, etc.). So, the Pirates are looking at a logjam in in the infield with no power, and a depleted outfield, into which they may be able to add one blue chip hitting prospect (Meadows).

I understand the appeal of looking at the rotation and trying to draw a parallel, but this is apples and oranges. The Bucs have not drafted hitting as well as they have hitting, they have not developed hitting as well, and they have not identified hitters through free agency as well. There are too many holes, and too many players to whom they are committed who have virtually no power. Instead of putting one’s hopes on 8 guys with middle infield flexibility who may hit for average and no power, I think it would more sense to move Cole.

JustABitOutside

doesn’t*

JustABitOutside

Advanced stats only matter in their prediction of how many runs a team should score. At the end of the season, topping the league in wRC+, OBP, Average, SB, and anything else don’t mean a whole lot if the team doesn’t actually score enough runs. They were league average in runs scored.

Thomas H

You are talking about past results too. The advanced stats from 2016 of players, many of whom are gone or will be gone shortly isn’t predictive of what may happen the remainder of this year or next. Or am I missing something?

Thomas H

Not sure which players are talking about, Tim and I’m not trying to be a smart ass. Many of the players who were on the team in 2016 aren’t on the team right now and many of the players on the team right now won’t be on the team in 2017. My point was those stats don’t really need anything.

JustABitOutside

My argument is specifically that, even when those factors were in play, they didn’t put up those runs. There is no reason to believe their future teams of 2017, 2018, or 2019 will even be able to replicate the feats accomplished last season. From their current roster (Including future commitments to players who are in decline, questionable, or underwhelming), minor league depth, and history of addressing their offensive woes, I see no reason to be confident that they can put together an offensive team in the next 2.75 seasons that will compete for a championship.

JustABitOutside

No. Poor metaphor. The metaphor would hold up if it was a team worth of pitchers, who were now regressing, and you were looking back at the peak years of a whole group of pitchers and saying that, even when their peripheral stats suggested they should have seen better results, they did not- and now, looking back at those peripherals, you were to suggest a better result on a (now) regressing group in the future.

beaverjp

2016’s offense produced 30 more runs than 2015s team. I guess the window was closing in 2015.

Thomas H

The window closed when they lost to the Cubs in 2015. 2016 was a “bridge year.” They said as much and their decisions, with a few exceptions, reflected as much.

This year is another “bridge year.” If they were to treat it any other way at this point would be nuts.

JustABitOutside

Remember too, that the league collectively was better offensively in 2016 than 2015.

ajax2448

Yet the Pirates ranked above league average in runs/game, BA, OBP. Guess those facts don’t get factored into the argument.

JustABitOutside

I wrote hastily, and sound like a jerk in my response. I apologize for that. I generally try to be more respectful than I sound in my response.

JustABitOutside

The league average was 4.52 runs per game. The Pirates were exactly league average. So, with Jung Ho Kang, Marte, and a much better bench than they currently have- they were exactly league average. Yeah, you got me there. Here are the facts: they were league average in 2016, and they are horrible in 2017. Their best players offensively are in decline (Cutch), underachieving (Polanco), or questionable (Marte/Kang). They haven’t addressed their offensive woes effectively, to the point people have to look at their league average season from last year to make an argument that their future performance is something to be confident about. Really.

JustABitOutside

I was happy it did- I won a steak dinner bet on them hitting more home runs after losing Alvarez and Walker. I am not suggesting the window closed- but this year is clearly lost. I don’t see any reason to believe they will be a contender next year, based off of what they have now, and their ability to address their offensive woes. I trust they can prove to be slightly competitive next year. Trade Cole and maximize the time you have with the core group you have now and for the future (Bell, Frazier, Taillon, Glasnow, etc.) thereby extending your window. A window shouldn’t be seen in light of the duration, but also the ability to compete within those years before you do a complete rebuild. They aren’t going to compete 2017, 2018, and, I believe, 2019 with the current team, so they are wasting their window with the current young core they have.

pierogieking

If they don’t compete in 18 or 19 they are in trouble. This is the rotation they need to win with. If the offense was even close to last years they’d be at the top of the division right now, especially since the division is underperforming as a whole.

Thomas H

I agree. The starting rotation is the key. The rotation right now looks really good other than Glassnow and Kuhl and both of them may get better. They aren’t likely to get a better rotation than the one they have right now without spending more money than they are likely willing to spend. Trading Cole takes them backward in my opinion.

John W

A lot does need to change. They need to get Kang back. I’d say the chances he isn’t allowed to step foot in the US before 2019 are significant.

And I know you didn’t say this but I’d just point out that while things change the pitching could change again. One shouldn’t assume the rotation will be pitching this well in 2018.

John W

Do you really think Nova continues to run a walk rate of 1-2% as a Pirate in 2018? Maybe.. but I’ll take the other side of that bet. I think he can be solid but I don’t expect him to continuing be dominant.

John W

Yeah I basically agree. I think going forward Nova is probably a 3.75-4 ERA pitcher. Which is clearly valuable… I just think people have become spoiled thinking he can stay at this elite level. Maybe he does, I certainly would welcome it.

ajax2448

Solid would be figuring it out from where he was with the Yankees. I think the biggest difference with Nova here is a defined role. In NY he was in the rotation for a few starts then in the pen then back and forth.

John W

For one thing, health has always been an issue with Cole. He missed meaningful time in 2014 and 2016 and chances are he misses time again.

I’m not even thinking about Taillon and baseball. I just hope the guy is healthy and gets good knows regarding his diagnosis.

I’m hopeful on Glasnow.

It’s way too early to think this is the pitcher Nova will be going forward.

But my material point was about Kang. If they don’t get him back they have trouble on offense. And there’s probably a good chance they don’t get him back.

John W

Great post. This core group really isn’t that good. And if Kang doesn’t return it’s mediocre.

So many people assume Meadows will be a 4-5 WAR player out of the gate. That WAS INSANE before he put up a 500 OPS at Indy this year.

It could happen but the odds are very significant that it does not.

pierogieking

I think they finally have the rotation to be a pretty good team if they can find some players who can hit. I understand how crazy and unlikely what I’m about to say is, but why not do something like this: Clean house at the deadline this year, trade Cutch, jhay, cervelli, watson, freese. I would even be open to trading Nova. Those guys can help contenders and bring in some talent. Bring up meadows, diaz and whoever else deserves it, along with players we get via trade and play out the year with a youth movement. Bucs would have some money to play with in the offseason if needed. I think you can build a pretty good team going into next season and watching a bunch of young guys learn how to play in the majors would be a lot more fun then watching these guys lose game after game w the current roster.
Again, just a dream

mam995

I would trade Cole to the Yankees TODAY for their top 3 or
4 prospects…and that includes Frazier and Keprielian (even though he’s hurt) and 3rd base power hitting prospect Andujar. Frazier would make for a nice young outfield paired with Meadows and give the Pirates another good starting pitching prospect.They’re not going anywhere this year..the only thing left for them is Fan Appreciation Day.

jedwar05

Love me some Frazier, but the word is he and Meadows don’t quite get along. Come from high schools close to each other in Georgia, known each other for a long time. Would imagine IF it were to ever happen they could be pros and winning would help ease the transition. And they’re styles of play don’t really mesh either. I think it’s kind of similar to the DiMaggio – Williams thing. Joe D wanted to be the best player, Teddy Ballgame wanted to be the best hitter. Frazier seems like he’s more out there to get his opposed to Meadows wanting to do what’s best for the club. Just an observation…I would obviously love Clint in the black and gold.

leefoo

I think they finally have the rotation to be a pretty good team

That’s what the Mets thought, too.

pierogieking

Speaking of the mets, looks like they’re going to lose familia long term too

ajax2448

And it got the Mets to a World Series. And then those starters got destroyed by injuries.

pierogieking

True, but not relevant. History is riddled with high potential teams that fall apart bc of a myriad of reasons. That doesn’t mean what I said isn’t true. We’ve been talking about Cole, Taillon and Glasnow around here for years. They’re here now. There’s some depth in AAA. Make some moves.

John W

Any player should be available if the right offer comes along. What right offer means is subject to interpretation. I think Cole at deadline should be worth 100-120M in surplus value.

And always remember it’s better to trade a player a year too soon vs a year too late.

Some of this should also depend if Pirates get clarity on whether or not Kang is coming back for 2018-19. Because if he isn’t, this team won’t be very good even with Cole.

John W

You could be right but the Yankees have the ammunition to make a fair trade. And it’s not crazy to think they could see the allure of Cole being added to their rotation. Trust me, I realize it probably doesn’t happen but I’m simply pointing out it could be logical fit.

bucs1971

I agree completely, John.

bucs1971

Tim, you can say the same thing about virtually every trade ever proposed or consummated. A General Manager is more than likely going to shop around for the best deal. In the example that you give here, it still would not preclude a team trying to acquire Cole. As you know, trades are made for various and sundry reasons. The bottom line is that Cole would be an attractive addition to just about any starting rotation. I don’t think that the likelihood of Neal H. being bowled over by an offer for him is as unlikely as you suggest. Now, Neal H. pulling the trigger may be another matter. That I will buy. Time will tell.

John W

Yeah… it probably doesn’t happen. I just hope we aren’t regretting in 2018 that it didn’t happen.

wtm1613

Any trade with the Yankees for Cole – whether this summer, the upcoming winter, or next summer – must start with Gleybar Torres. If not, no point in even having a discussion. Simple as that.

beaverjp

Since this exists completely in fantasyland why not go for Gary Sanchez.

Thom

Nicasio and Watson are the two I’d expect to go. Maybe Freese, too, since Josh Harrison is good at 3B and the Pirates have a bunch of potential 2B. No need to sell any of the SP.

Scott K

Tim, you forgot the word “way” in front of the word “too” in the headline. “Two years” would suffice as well.

Bill Harvey

It appears as though the Pirates will not compete this season. It is debatable as to wether the Pirates will compete next season.

I personally think you put feelers out there and see what the return might be. Not necessarily to try to trade him, or anyone for that matter, but see what other teams think their value is.

Scott K

Since you got that crystal ball out, can you tell me what year they’ll be in the World Series so I can plan accordingly?

Bill Harvey

I gave up any hope of the Pirates ever winning a championship after the Cubs won the World Series last year. It would take a miracle for them to make it out of the NL. The Cubs and Dodgers have very good minor league systems, which they also both focus on, and infinite payroll. The Nats had a good farm system, and nearly an infinite payroll. The Cardinals have a good farm system and a pretty good ability to spend. The Pirates have a decent farm system and a limited payroll. Even if everything goes perfectly, it is a tough row to hoe for them to even make it to the playoffs. I hate to deal in absolutes, but if the Pirates make it to the World Series in my lifetime, I will be shocked.

One way to guarantee that they will never truely compete is by waiting too long to trade their stars for bigger returns all while maintaining a bottom third payroll.

bucs1971

“One way to guarantee that they will never truely compete is by waiting too long to trade their stars for bigger returns all while maintaining a bottom third payroll.”
Bill, I think that this speaks volumes, and I could not agree more. Thank you for being the voice of reason here!!!

Scott Kliesen

Just think about that for a second. Take the Royals as a recent example of why you’re both wrong. If their GM for the Royals had taken your position, they would’ve missed out on a magical 2-year run.

How does a small market team ever compete if they don’t let a group of talented players mature and grow together?

Take Cole for example. By trading him this summer as opposed to summer of ’19, you’re guaranteed to lose two years of his prime, and you’re not guaranteed to get more production from the increased haul of prospects.

bucs1971

Scott, if we learn anything from the 2017 season as Pirate fans, it is that nothing is guaranteed. And that is certainly the case with developing/acquiring prospects, making trades, signing free agents, etc. All of it is a calculated risk. While I cannot speak for Bill, what I think that he is saying is that with a small market team especially, and one that claims to be on a small budget, you have to part with your veterans when their value is the highest. Now, that said, is Cole’s trade value higher now than it will be one or two years from now? That is an unanswerable question. All that I am saying is that what would be the harm in Neal H. at least entertaining offers? Certainly, you point is well taken and valid in that having Cole for two more years on the Pirates may provide huge dividends, especially if Glasnow finally does come around and Taillon is able to overcome his latest challenge and pitch productively and Nova keeps doing well and the farm system churns out several quality arms. But, we don’t know if any of that is going to happen or not happen. So, if you are Neal H., you strike while the iron is hot, PROVIDED THAT THE RETURN IS HIGH, SAY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE WHITE SOX GOT FROM THE RED SOX FOR CHRIS SALE. And as Bill says, you don’t wait until your veterans have limited or no trade value, while at the same time claiming that you cannot afford to put a legitimately competitive team on the field.

Scott K

If you truly believe the first sentence in your post, then I feel sorry for you Bill.

Why be a fan if you have no hope?

Bill Harvey

The same way I am a fan of my kids’ sports teams even though I don’t believe they are going to win every tournament they are in.

Scott Kliesen

That doesn’t make any sense to me. You’re talking as if Pirates have no hope of ever winning a title. And one of the reasons you cited is Cubs winning one last year. Is their a predetermined limit a division can win that I’m not aware of? And what does youth baseball have to do with it?

Bill Harvey

I used the Cubs as one example as to why it is all but impossible for the Pirates to win a World Series. There are far to many teams that can outspend the Pirates and still maintain a farm system as good or better than the Pirates. Even if the Cubs have a horrible year, there are still 3-5 other NL teams that have good farm systems and can outspend the Pirates to fill holes. Even if things went perfectly for the Pirates, there are 3 teams with more talent on paper in the NL, of which, the Pirates would need to beat 2, just to get to the World Series. At that point, they get the AL team that can outspend them, and could realistically have a good farm system as well. Like I said, I don’t like to deal in absolutes, but it is definitely an uphill battle for the Pirates to win a WS.

As for my kids sports, you either didn’t understand what I was saying, or you completely took it out of context. You asked why i still rooted for the Pirates when I didn’t believe they would win a championship. I root for them, because I hope that they have a chance, it is the hope that keeps me rooting for them. The same way I root for my kids teams, even though I know they aren’t going to win every tournament they are in.

ajax2448

Not believing they will win every tournament and not believing they will win any tournaments are 2 different things though. You flat out said you don’t believe they will EVER win a World Series.

Bill Harvey

You want the cold hard truth, or do you want a massage first?

AW17

Did you also believe that they would never have a winning season again or playoff appearance during the 20 year streak? The Cubs certainly look formidable but things can change in a hurry. Theo Epstein also turned around the Red Sox. Then he made some bad signings etc. and the Red Sox finished last something like 3 straight years. He’s already made questionable moves coming into this season with 5 older starting pitchers and with hardly any SP depth.

Robert J

Did they really try to trade Cutch? Or was it more the Nats asking and NH seeing what he can get? It’s not like we really heard his name linked to any other team. And, he’s still here after the Nats emptied the farm system for Eaton. Surely, if they were really trying to trade him we’d have heard more, and he’d be gone by now.

bucs1971

Excellent points!!

leefoo

only NH and Rizzo know for sure.

Robert J

And that’s just it. If they were really trying to trade him, wouldn’t some other GM have his name in that list?

brilemon

What if no one else wanted him?

Robert J

Certainly a possibility.

Bill Harvey

They tried to trade him, but Washington believed the value they would receive from Eaton minus the cost of acquisition was higher than what they would have received from McCutchen minus the acquisition cost.

Robert J

That’s the narrative we all heard. This, like all narratives, should be taken with a grain of salt.

It still leaves a lot of my questions unanswered

Bill Harvey

It’s actually a pretty solid narrative.

Robert J

What does that mean?

leefoo

Cole will most likely be with us the rest of the year. But once the offseason begins up through all of 2018 (incl the 2018 trade deadline IF we are out ‘out of it), I would bet that NH will listen to all offers.

The last time we had a pitcher at his peak play out his option, was Doug Drabek in ’92. We received a Supp pick who turned out to be Jermaine Allensworth. I suspect that NH will want more than a Supp pick for Cole.

emjayinTN

Nobody will be shopped, but if the Yankees want Cole they know what it will take. The Yankees and the Pirates have had many interactions the past few years, and I expect more in the near future. And, the deal that may or will be done prior to the trading deadline will involve more Pirate(s) than just Gerrit Cole.

Scott K

It’s not 100% that he will be traded by July 31, 2019, but it’s damn close to it.

Robert J

There are no untranslatables on a small market team.

Thomas H

I agree it would be premature to trade Cole. I think there is a greater than 0% possibility of it happening. How much greater, I don’t know.

Scott K

Whatever the number greater than 0 is will have a decimal and several zeroes in front of it.

Thomas H

Not sure. Probably closer to 20%. Depends upon what they think they have next year, what’s offered to them and what they think they can acquire without trading him. I don’t think the team they have is very good and I don’t think it projects to be very good next year either. They are paying Cole about a third to a fourth of what he could command as a free agent. I am sure that they realize that.

By the way, I’m not suggesting to you that I would trade cold if I were the GM. I think that would be crazy. I’m just not sure they aren’t crazy. We will see.

bucs1971

As is the case with any trade, what is the other team willing to part with? Neal H. might as well start to open up to the possibility of trading Cole, simply because he won’t be a Pirate after 2019, and while he has pitched well this season, he still has not established himself as a dominant, top of the rotation, Arrieta, Kershaw, Wainwright (at least the Wainwright of a few years ago) type of pitcher. Bottom line: Sell high.

Micbg77

Glad you wrote this. No chance Cole is traded, because the Yankees would never meet the asking price. If NH isn’t shopping then a team would have to come in and overpay for him and that’s not gonna happen.

bucs1971

I would not be so sure about that. While I do not think that Neal H. will offer Cole during this season or even in the coming off season, I would not put it past another team to come calling. If that team thinks that Cole can help them win the World Series, then they may be willing to overpay. Neal H. should definitely hold out for a haul similar to what the White Sox got for Chris Sale. It would not be completely outside of the realm of possibility.

Micbg77

I suppose it’s not completely out of the question that a team would offer up a “Sale-esque” package for Cole. The Yankees certainly have the prospects too.

Brian Z

Been saying the same thing once that trade story came out, but I’d say there is ZERO chance he is dealt this season. Making less than $4MM this year but pitching like a pitcher who makes $15+MM is a hell of a deal and one the Pirates won’t give up.

rjgrinde

Not if he is pitching for a losing team. Why waste a trade piece that could double your competitiveness in two years on a throw away season? We need to straight “Cub” it and trade Jeff Samardzija for Addison Russell. This iteration of the Pirates has run it’s course, it is time to be smart and capitalize on the wasted assets the Pirates currently have. Just my opinion.

bucs1971

That is the bottom line, so I agree with your assertion. That said, in my opinion, the 2017 season for the Pirates was half over when we found out Kang was going to be significantly delayed at best in joining the team. The other half to the end of the season came after Marte’s suspension. This team just does not have enough offense or defense to contend without those two key players. Now, with Taillon’s future being uncertain, that just adds another nail to the coffin. I hate to sound so negative, but I think that the best thing that could happen for the future of the Bucs is that come July, Neal H. will hold a fire sale and unload as many veterans as he can, in the hope that he can get back some huge pieces, similar to what the White Sox got from Boston in the Chris Sale trade.

john fluharty

Maybe if they give us all of their top 10 prospects. 🙂

capirate

For a couple of farm systems, this still might not be much!

Brian Z

lol…then bye Cole!!!!!

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop

WEDNESDAY: Opinions

THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Winter Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments