Yankees are Reportedly Interested in Acquiring Gerrit Cole

Jon Heyman from MLB Network is reporting that the New York Yankees are interested in acquiring right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Heyman notes that his feelings are that the Pirates aren’t trading him. While I don’t see the Pirates refusing to trade Cole, their asking price is likely high due to the fact that he still has two years remaining before free agency. As Heyman mentions, Cole was a first round draft pick of the Yankees out of high school, so he has been on their radar for quite a while.

Cole had a down year in 2017, posting a career-high 4.26 ERA. His 4.08 FIP was slightly better than the ERA and his 1.25 WHIP was better than his 2016 total. He pitched over 200 innings for the second time and just missed his career best with 198 strikeouts. Cole allowed 31 homers in 2017, which nearly matched his totals from his first four seasons combined.

Cole is projected to make $7.5 M through arbitration this year, making him very affordable for a top of the rotation starter, if he can get back to those numbers. Combined with two years of control, it also makes him an interesting trade target for other teams. If anything more comes out, we will post an update.

UPDATE: Buster Olney also weighed in on a possible Cole/Yankees deal:

Update from the Rangers beat writer is not much of an update:

  • How about to the O’s for Machado, after we throw in Polanco and Freese?

  • It’s gonna be same as every winter meetings. Pirates are not going to do anything!!! It’s all just rumors and fluff. I guarantee they do nothing.

    • Wrong! They claimed a SS! That’s something. So you are already proven wrong. Very active.

  • I mean, of course they are.

  • Cole pitching in yankee stadium, Camden Yards, Fenway, etc…. so does the over/under line for hr allows starts at 35?

  • Frazier, Andujar, and a couple a-ball lotto tix.

  • We can only hope they do the trade!

  • gary sanchez, please

  • At present I don’t get the impression the Pirates will rebuild so I doubt they do move Cole or do anything too meaningful this week. That could change later if the Cubs and Cardinals look like monster teams and the Brewers also improve. I expect the Cubs and Cardinals will be considerably stronger than anything the Pirates can put together for next season.

    • michael schalke
      December 11, 2017 4:53 pm

      Yeah, and just in, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

    • We can trade Cole without it being a full rebuild. I think the only move that triggers a full rebuild is moving Cutch, and I don’t expect that to happen until mid season if we’re out of contention.

  • Discussions begin with Torres, then Andujar, then a pitcher who’s in their top-15…if they balk, time to talk to Houston.

  • “Gimme Gleyber Torres and a bag of chips and you’ve got a deal.”
    — Neal Huntington

  • Yankees are testing the market to see if we will give away a player due to contract size for a bag of balls. I doubt anything comes of this however I do think we will trade Cole.

  • This pairing makes a lot of sense–the Yankees need another top of the rotation starter and they have a strong enough farm system to provide a good return. And of course Huntington and Cashman have made trades before.

    A reasonable return might be an MLB-ready top 5 prospect (e.g., Andujar or Frazier, though I’m skeptical about Frazier), a younger prospect (e.g., Abreu or Florial), and one of their strong relievers (e.g., Green). That gives the Pirates a chance to be competitive this year if Glasnow steps up while putting them in a much better position for after this year.

    • Agree with you conceptually. Good post!

    • I know Frazier strikes out more than one might like, but he walks at a decent rate, has power, and his bat speed is really incredible and his bat path beautiful and smooth, to the point that I think it might be more likely he susses out the strikeout issues than he doesn’t, and turns into a true impact bat.

      Honestly, I would sincerely consider trading Cutch for him straight up. I think he’s a decent enough chance to breakout this year that it might be a lateral move in 2017 (especially since it would improve the outfield defense, moving Marte to CF), with obviously big upside in the years following. (You know, if the Yanks had any reason to try to make that move, which they don’t, since they already have so many good outfielders.)

    • Like you, I am skeptical about Frazier. He has a lot of swing and miss

  • I think Cole needs to be on a team where he isn’t expected to be the ACE. Then the pressure comes off and he pitches better. Great stuff but he still has a lot going on in his head. If we aren’t going to get a REAL #1 SP, then I say trade Cole ASAP for the best haul we can get.

    • Great points; I agree 100%!!

    • I think you can expect Cole to be a low end #1, so a top 20-30 starter across the league. His stuff is great, but his pitches tend to flatten out too much to crack a top 5 or 10 pitcher.

    • No pressure at all on Cole last two years in the second half.

      • I guess what I mean is…. that when the team struggles, he feels pressure to be “The Man” and goes out and overthrows and overthinks. When the team does well (when we had Burnett, Liriano, Happ), he pitches better due to less pressure to do so… He’s more of a complimentary piece.

        • Cole is an emotional player. It definitely doesn’t always work in his favor. Cole has had a solid career. He just disappoints because I think most people hoped for an ace. I do think he will bring more at deadline most likely than right now so I wouldn’t deal him.

    • New York is a very high pressure pitching environment (for all five starters), and it is a small stadium. I doubt he would do well there, his homerun issues would explode in that tiny little outfield.

  • Michael Sanders
    December 11, 2017 3:21 pm

    I really thought the Yankees would have went for the trio of Cutch, Harrison, and Cole before Stanton. I think for the right price the Pirates would have caved too!

  • Yankees have enough prospects that it’s worth asking for one of their top guys. I would love to see some of the upper tiers of their farm system come our way. Chance Adams seems like an interesting add too.

    • They were talking an extension with CC, but now do not have the money after adding Stanton. They need a Top guy and Cole only projected to get $7+ mil in Arb is very inviting to keep them under the 2018 Luxury Tax.

      Cole 59-42, 127 Starts averaging 6+ innings per start. Those are proven MLB stats, not projections of what might happen with a prospect. The Pirates need to have Torres +. The Yankees gave the A’s their #4, #8, and #12 prospects to get Sonny Gray.

      • I agree, and you could argue that Cole is as good or better than Gray, although I think Gray had more years of control at the time of the deal.

  • hold on to your butts

  • Florial?

    • mike_carlini66
      December 11, 2017 2:42 pm

      I was thinking the same thing but hoping for a little more.

      • Either he or Torres included or no deal

        • mike_carlini66
          December 11, 2017 2:48 pm

          I really hate playing armchair GM but if they could get Florial and Abreu at the very least I think it might be worth exploring.

      • More?? As in Torres as the main chip?? I don’t think the Yankees will trade Torres nor Florial. I think they’ll be more willing to trade Frazier but I prefer Florial over Frazier. CF, have power, toolsy, fast…

    • my dixie wrecked
      December 11, 2017 2:55 pm

      Florial hasn’t reached AA yet. He’s good but not close to a proper return for two years of a top of the rotation starter. Pirates fans have a habit of undervaluing their players. A’s got three top 100 prospects for Sonny Gray.

      • Oh, definitely. I was suggesting him as the main prospect + @s, not just Florial. That’d make no sense.

      • With the Yankees lineup the 31 HR’s wouldn’t look so bad. How many games did Cole pitch that a HR led to him losing. No run support. Offense covers up a lot of pitchers mistakes.

        • In Yankee Stadium he might have given up 40+

          • I don’t remember a lot of his FB’s being caught at the walls. Maybe, he tries to be finer with his pitches because of the little run support. He may reduce his HR’s with a new team. Nova did. But, you do have an excellent point.

  • Tell them we will take that Judge kid straight up. He wasn’t rated that high as a minor leaguer anyway.