One of the benefits of writing an eBook and releasing it in the way we’re releasing the Prospect Guide this year is that you can have last-minute changes. In the past, I would have needed the actual book sent to the publisher by last Wednesday or Thursday in order to get it back today, in order to get it shipped out in time for Christmas. With the eBook, we can make changes on Friday morning, save the file, upload it, and officially release the book that afternoon.
Still, I have a feeling the Pirates will make a last-minute move that will impact the book. We’re equipped to handle that, and could even release an update to the book if a major move comes right after the release. But my goal has been to finish the book a few days in advance of Friday’s release, which means I’ve been writing the last few profiles of the book over the weekend. Because of that, this column is going to be a bit more informal, and just some random thoughts on one topic in particular: Gerrit Cole.
**It’s fitting that I’m writing about Cole after that intro, because Cole is one of the biggest guys who could impact the top 50. If the Pirates end up trading him, the return would likely net a few top prospects that would shake up our rankings.
**The rumors over the weekend were that the Pirates are going for Gleyber Torres, and if they could actually pull that off, it would be a simple adjustment where we’d be shifting everyone down one spot in the rankings, with Torres at the top. The most common name mentioned has been Clint Frazier, who isn’t prospect eligible, combined with a few other prospects in addition.
**I don’t think the Pirates will be able to get Torres. The Yankees didn’t trade that caliber of prospect for Sonny Gray, and Cole is a similar pitcher with less control than Gray had. He’s also doesn’t have the stats right now that Gray had at the time of that trade (although he has put up those numbers in the past).
**On that same note, I think a return of Clint Frazier as the main part of the deal would be a good one, assuming there’s a good second piece in the deal. One of the names most thrown around has been Chance Adams. The A’s got some high upside guys for Gray, with a potential starting outfielder and a potential mid-rotation starter. They also got Jorge Mateo in the deal. If the Pirates can match the two key pieces by getting a potential starting outfielder in Frazier, and a potential mid-rotation starter in Adams, then they should definitely make that deal.
**In terms of any trade return, I wouldn’t be worried about need or the strength of the system right now. The Pirates have a lot of shortstop prospects, but I’d take Torres in a heartbeat.
They have Austin Meadows, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte as a future starting outfield, but until there are no questions surrounding that trio, I wouldn’t avoid adding other outfielders like Frazier.
They have plenty of starting pitching prospects in the upper levels, but you can never have too much pitching depth, especially when you’ve got a shot at more than a back of the rotation guy.
They aren’t strong at third base in the system, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to try and get Miguel Andujar, especially since I think Ke’Bryan Hayes has a better chance of being the future starter at third. Sure, get Andujar if you can as a second piece, but I wouldn’t center a deal around him just to try and fill a need at third base, especially when he’s not guaranteed to stick at third.
**The Yankees signed CC Sabathia over the weekend, but they’re still reportedly looking for another starter, and will likely fill that via trade, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. So don’t think the Sabathia signing means the end of the Cole discussions.
**What will the Pirates do with their future rotation if they trade Cole? They’ll still have Jameson Taillon under control through the 2022 season. They have Mitch Keller in the upper levels, potentially making his debut in 2018, but more likely to be up in 2019 if they’re rebuilding. Tyler Glasnow still has top of the rotation stuff, but is more of a wild card at this point. And Shane Baz is the best starter with top of the rotation potential in the lower levels, but he is too far away to think about for the next few years. Taillon and Keller will lead the rotation in the future, with the hope that they can add someone else via trade, free agency, or development.
**If the Pirates trade Cole, then they should follow that up by trading Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison, Francisco Cervelli, and anyone else under control only through the 2018 and 2019 seasons. No use keeping those guys around when this team isn’t built to contend without Cole. Even with Cole, they’ve only got an outside chance.
**And now I’ll get back to writing up the final profiles of the book. You’ll know when I’m finished. It will be right before the Pirates inevitably make a move to change the top 50. That top 50 will be released on Friday, and you can pre-order the eBook here to get the list when it comes out.