I figured the Pirates would end up trading Gerrit Cole at the worst possible time for me. That ended up being with my best friends in town for the weekend, and right when the first of our all-you-can-eat sushi was delivered to the table. I got the alert, saw four names in return, including a few I was already familiar with, and in between bites I was studying up. Needless to say, there’s a lot to digest here. And then there’s the breakdown of the trade.

I had some instant thoughts on the trade, with the immediate reaction being that the Pirates didn’t get enough. I also had the feeling that they might have some nice MLB pieces, and could be successful in a quantity approach. But that raises the question of whether they’re trying to compete in the short-term, and in a sense, if they’re trying to remain in No Man’s Land.

I’m not going to provide any immediate takes, and this isn’t going to be a traditional column where you know what my stance is at first, and then I break down why that’s my stance. Instead, I’m going to walk through each part of the deal, and come to a conclusion at the end, which is basically what I do for every trade and every transaction, except that you don’t see my work as blatantly.

So here we go…

Gerrit Cole

I feel like I don’t need to describe Gerrit Cole, although I do need to give my stance on him, since opinions on him were so split. He was one of the top pitchers in the game from 2013-2015 by the numbers, and that’s not something you can objectively argue, unless your definition of top pitchers is limited to 5-10 players. He didn’t return to those numbers, due to injuries in 2016 and due to home runs in 2017. I could see him bouncing back in the future, with the home run problem and health not being as big of issues. He was the biggest trade chip the Pirates had, and while his value might have been lowered, I still think it was pretty high, and he was seen as a potential impact pitcher.

Colin Moran

I don’t know how the trade breaks down in terms of who to prioritize first, but I’m going with Moran, since his ability to play third base is the most interesting. The Pirates only have one long-term third base option, and that is Ke’Bryan Hayes, who will start the 2018 season in Double-A. I think Hayes could be more than an average third baseman, with breakout potential if his power increases. But I don’t believe in putting your eggs in one prospect basket, which is why adding a guy like Moran is a good move.

There could be some sleeper potential here, based on Moran’s stats in the last year. He greatly increased his power in 2017, hitting for a .235 ISO in Triple-A, with his previous minor league best being a .153 ISO in Double-A in 2015, and most years ending up around a .100-.110 ISO. The best part was that he added this power while seeing a decrease in his strikeouts, and while maintaining a good average and walk rate. These changes came due to an overhaul of his swing, aimed at going for more lift and better launch angle. There would be questions about whether Moran can continue this going forward, as his results are limited to half a season of at-bats which came in the hitter friendly PCL. There’s also the question of how much drop off in the numbers he will see.

There’s nothing holding Moran back from being the starting third baseman going forward. David Freese has shown that he’s not durable enough to be a starter, and the Pirates will be rebuilding and hoping for a quick reload, with Moran now being an important piece of that reload. If he can show that the 2017 numbers were the real deal, and something he can carry over to the majors, then that’s a big addition for the Pirates, getting a third baseman with a promising bat for the next six seasons.

Joe Musgrove

Musgrove didn’t have the best numbers in the Houston rotation last year, but did put up strong numbers in the bullpen. You’d have to think that the Pirates would want him as a starter, although I’d have questions about the need to add another starter. They have a lot of options in Triple-A or just making the jump to the majors. Musgrove adds to that depth, and you obviously can never have enough pitching. But to me, Musgrove only adds to that depth. He doesn’t give the Pirates a guy who can be better than a back of the rotation guy, and it might even be questionable that he could remain a starter. His fastball had good velocity, but was hit around, while his slider showed some strong results.

He’ll give the Pirates more depth in either the rotation or the bullpen, and my question after this move is whether they could use that added depth to move Ivan Nova and go with a young rotation next year. The big issue with the rotation is that they now lack top of the rotation options, which is a problem that should be solved when Mitch Keller arrives, possibly in 2019. That’s more an issue with the team, rather than this trade.

Michael Feliz

Feliz makes me think of a right-handed Felipe Rivero at the time of that deal, and the Pirates can only hope things turn out that way. He’s got velocity, getting his fastball up to 99.5 MPH and averaging 96.2. He’s got a slider that can be a dangerous strikeout pitch, leading to a 32.1% strikeout rate last year. The problem is that his control is poor, and he walks 10% of the batters he faces. He’s also had issues with the long ball.

Rivero also had control issues, and the Pirates got him to trust that his stuff was good enough and attack the zone with it. That’s not an easy feat, and for every Rivero success story, there are plenty of examples where a player didn’t figure it out. If Feliz can figure it out, then the Pirates have a dangerous duo in the late innings with Rivero and Feliz. And honestly, if there’s one area where the Pirates should get some optimism that things will work out, it’s in the bullpen, adding a late inning arm and hoping everything clicks for him to pitch in the late innings.

Jason Martin

The Pirates have Austin Meadows as their outfielder of the future in Triple-A. They have some interesting outfield prospects set to make the jump to West Virginia this year. But if Meadows doesn’t work out, or if Gregory Polanco continues to have injury issues, then there’s a long wait until one of those younger guys arrives. Martin gives the Pirates an interesting outfield prospect in the middle of that pack. He’s been hitting for a lot of power for the last two years, and carried that over to Double-A. His strikeout rate has some concerns, but isn’t out of the ordinary for a power hitter. His walk rate dropped this year, and that will be something he needs to maximize value going forward.

Martin is a center fielder, but there are questions about whether he’d stick at the position. Honestly, he doesn’t need to stick there in the Pirates’ system, and his power looks like it could handle a corner. However, Baseball America pointed out that some evaluators don’t see him having enough power for a corner spot. He went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft, although I think that speaks more to him not being ready for the majors, and being unlikely to be protected all year at this stage. It’s impossible to say how the Pirates evaluated these guys in the trade, but I think it’s easy to assume that Martin is more of an extra and a wild card, rather than part of the main return.

What Did the Pirates Get?

It’s hard to not sound optimistic when writing about prospects and young players, because the nature of the writing is that you’re talking about what the players could become if most goes right. But the unsaid thing in every evaluation is that nothing is guaranteed, and you can’t count on every player to work out. I do think the Pirates got some good pieces here, with some upside.

Moran could be a starting third baseman, with the chance for an impact bat if last year was the real deal.

Musgrove seems like a back of the rotation starter, and might have the chance to be a middle of the rotation guy if all goes well. But that might be too optimistic, or expecting too much to go well.

It’s hard to avoid the Feliz-Rivero comparisons, and avoid dreaming about what that combo could become.

And Martin provides an interesting outfielder who might have a shot at hitting his way to being a starting option at the corners.

But you need to look at the other side of things in each of these cases.

What if Moran doesn’t stick at third, or doesn’t carry his offense over to the majors?

What if Musgrove can’t be a starter, and is limited to being a reliever?

What if Feliz doesn’t improve his control? (The answer here is that he’s a capable reliever, but a guy who could be so much more, which would be a frustrating situation.)

What if Martin ends up only a bench player at best, due to the lack of walks and the reports about his power not matching the stats?

The reality is that these scenarios will end up somewhere in the middle. Not everything will work out, and not everything will go wrong. The key is getting the right mixture of things that go right. And looking at this deal, I think one player is the key to the success: Colin Moran.

I don’t see Musgrove being more than a back of the rotation starter. I could see Feliz being a good late-inning reliever. And Martin is a wild card. But if Moran doesn’t work out, then I don’t think any of those players can do enough to really headline this deal. It seems the Pirates have two good potential complementary pieces here, and one guy who could be an average or better third baseman, with the value of the deal largely being carried by Moran.

When you’re trading your biggest trade chip, you can’t afford a bad return. This is a fan base that complained daily about parting ways with Juan Nicasio a month early, and complained everyday for a year about salary dumping Francisco Liriano. The Pirates and Neal Huntington will never live it down if the Cole trade doesn’t work out. And their chances really revolve around Moran for this deal to be really successful.

Are We Still in No Man’s Land?

My thought when seeing this deal was that the Pirates may not be out of No Man’s Land just yet. As in, they might not be committing one way or another on a rebuild versus going for it approach.

It’s hard to avoid that thought when the biggest piece of the trade appears to be an MLB-ready third baseman.

It’s hard to avoid that thought when the next two pieces are guys in the majors who have seen some adjustment issues.

It’s hard to avoid that when the lowest level prospect is a guy in Double-A with limited upside, rather than a lower level lottery ticket like the Pirates got with Oneil Cruz in the Tony Watson trade last year.

Granted, this might be a bit unfair. Moran was set to be rated the number nine prospect in Baseball America’s upcoming rankings. But if his numbers from last year are legit, you’d have to argue him up that list. And he’s technically a prospect, so the Pirates did get a prospect in this deal. But this does make you wonder whether they could have gotten some lower level guys with higher upside — basically committing to a rebuild and doing something similar to what teams like the White Sox have done in recent years.

This trade kind of fills some needs for the Pirates. They’ve now got a third baseman of the future, which was a question mark heading into the off-season. They have another starting pitching option, which isn’t the biggest need, but something you can’t have enough of. They have a potential pairing for Felipe Rivero in the late innings. And they boosted their outfield depth in the minors.

The problem with filling needs in a trade is that you have to look at it in one of two ways. Either it’s just a convenient coincidence that they managed to get some of their biggest needs filled in this deal — in a trade with a team that had better ranked prospects who didn’t play positions of need. Or, it’s the worst case, where they’re still trying to contend while rebuilding, and taking a lower return in the process.

I feel this question will be unanswered until we see how other moves shake out. What will happen with Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison? Will they be traded or retained, and will those trade returns be similar deals where MLB-ready talent is the return?

It could very well be that this deal works out for the Pirates, and it’s just coincidental that it happened to fill some of their needs. But the problem right now is that we still don’t have an answer to whether the Pirates are out of No Man’s Land, and unfortunately we have another sign that they could still be in the middle, not really committing one way or the other.

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312 COMMENTS

  1. The Pirates have settled into a “go for the wild card every year” mode. If there is no increase in budget, like most of us want, that’s where we will remain. I don’t really have a problem with that. I don’t want a complete teardown and rebuild just to hope for a 2-3 year window in 2020 or so – I’d rather be on the fringes of the playoffs year in year out then to suck for a few, and hope for future success. The current FO has done a good job getting us out of the 20 losing streak forest. This is the new normal (until the payroll sees a 20% bump).

  2. Is it unreasonable to just hope they leave Musgrove in the bullpen where he was near-elite?

    Feliz has the stuff to be the same.

    What if the strategy is to sell *them* at the deadline if they’re out of it…

  3. I prefer Moran to Clint Frazier. I am hopeful he will hit like Josh Bell. I don’t think Frazier will be nearly as good. Glad they did not trade with Yankees.

    • Agreed. I cant get over how many people think Frazier was some golden prospect… he has never put up big numbers in the minors and he figures to be a corner OF. BIG WHOOP! I think Moran is a younger Freese, which is valuable if your team has the older Freese as yiur starting 3B. Two years ago Musgrove was Chance Adams. Facing MLB hitters takes a lot of bloom off the rose.

    • This is probably an unpopular, but not indefensible take.

      I’d need to read a good report of Frazier’s defense before i decide if i agree or disagree with you.

      i’m also learning that i have a bias toward lefty hitters, especially at the positions where you need to throw right handed.

    • Given their differences in ages and where they’ve advanced so far in their careers, I don’t see how you can prefer Moran over Frazier? I was not a big fan of getting Frazier for Cole, but he is 2-3 years younger than Moran and has played a lot more in the majors than Moran has. Moran also played in the PCL last year, which always inflates hitter’s numbers.

      Obviously, Moran could turn out to be a late bloomer and become a good ML starting third baseman, but that is more of a question than a certainty based on his career to date. I don’t see him ever being a Bell like power hitter, but if he can hit .275-.280 and hit 15 HRs and drive in 70-80 runs and play acceptable defense at third, the Pirates will be fortunate and certainly happy with those results.

  4. The thing I think most people are forgetting is that the Pirates also have the money ($6.75 million minus the salaries for Moran, Musgrove and Feliz) they would have paid Cole had they retained him. Assuming that Kang is out of the picture forever, and we did not pick up Chris Stewart’s option and Jaso isn’t returning, are there any free agents to be had that the Pirates should make a run at, even if it’s only a one year deal. I think Tim makes an excellent point. We still don’t really know if the Pirates are going full rebuild mode, given the return we’ve gotten from the Cole trade or if they are simply retooling.

          • Lynn I’m not thrilled with…but the idea of trading Nova and signing Lynn has appeal. Lynn is a better pitcher and, the way the market seems to going, I think is going to settle for below initial projections.

            Assuming he could be gotten for about $4M more than Nova, that puts the Pirates at about $88M (by my estimates)….if they would commit to a payroll of $105, that leaves a lot of wriggle room.

    • Given the Pirates recent history, what makes you think they will re-invest those “savings” into the 2018 roster? I’m not being smart, but asking a serious question. If they sign a FA who is more than yet another reclamation project or utility player, I will be shocked.

  5. Seems like all they got were 3 guys who could be on the Opening Day roster and one other who is a few years away. No real significant upside with any of these guys but Musgrove might be the kind of pitcher Searage likes to work with since he has a decent sinker, but can a guy like that succeed in this fly ball era? If Moran can produce some power like he started to last year, this trade might look good down the line. I like the idea of potentially having Feliz at the back of the bullpen, but like you said there are a lot of “ifs” with this deal.

    Disappointing that there was no top prospect but a lot of what I have read says that teams like the Astros have no need to part with top prospects based on their depth and the market.

    • I agree…lots of ‘ifs’ in this deal…

      …for both sides. Such as, if Cole doesn’t reign in that gopher-ball, he may top 40 allowed considering he will be pitching half his games at MMP.

      Personally, I think Cole will be fine and flourish, but there’s also a real chance this deal turns out to be embarrassing for Houston.

  6. Sad day as a Pirate fan. Number one draft pick whom we nurtured into our go to man. No matter his numbers when he pitched I made sure I watched the game. He was one of the young men we as fans felt empowered the days he took the mound. Some of my best most recent memories are when he and AJ opened the season virtually untouchable as a one two punch, Cole frequently hitting 100 mph. Players we got in return just names and numbers with no real emotions conjured and listless expectations. Go ahead and dump the rest now…mediocrity was the best we attained, now back in the tank with the rest of the fish. Good luck with ticket sales boys…your gonna need it.

  7. Astros win WS. They then move to improve going forward.

    Pirates have 98 win season, let Happ go, then trade a staring position player for a pitcher far worse than Happ.

    But hey, at least the Bucs haven’t had a data breach.

    This is the kind of deal where I get a feeling that when MLB isn’t looking, the GMs from the top five markets get together over drinks and make bets on who can do the best job of screwing over the GMs from the bottom five markets.

  8. So take a look at your 2018 dream rotation. Taillon, Kuhl, Musgrove and maybe Glasnow remembers how to pitch.

    Huntington should have spent prospect currency when the window was actually open.

    But he held tight and now we have the perpetual juggernaut NH and his minions sold us on…

        • Considering he’s only SP w more than a couple years experience, I don’t see Pirates dealing Nova.

          As for dumping him and his $10 mm salary, which they have to pay whether he pitches this year or not, you’re just being stupid.

    • You should not be mocked by my friend but 6.5M is a pittance. They won’t extend Cutch and even if they shed his 14.5M don’t expect to see much done with the money.

    • I have a feeling they will come to an agreement. Cutch will make them a deal they can’t refuse.

      I know it’s not rational but I’ve thought this for awhile.

    • To be honest, I was thinking about a cutch extension. The market is not moving on OFers and there will be more big names available next offseason. I think there’s a shot they could sign a 3 year $45m extension and it might be market rate for him.

    • a cutch extension isn’t really about having the money vs not having the money. I feel like it’s more about being a good idea vs being a bad idea.

  9. Thanks Tim! Nice write-up, just what I expect from PP and the kind of Bucco insight I can’t get anywhere else. I’ve lost my “life and death” passion for the Bucs so I hope this works out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t. I still root for them and would like to see this young third baseman pan out.

    We live in Texas, saw one of the World Series games in person and could find myself rooting for the ‘stros. Glad to see Coletrain end up there rather than NY or Chicago. Finally, I would appreciate your review of the all-you-can-eat sushi restuarant. We have a place on Lido Key and are always looking for new restaurant recommendations down there!

  10. To many posts to read them all and I am sure that 70% are negative but this trade seems to fit the Pirate philosophy of getting quantity over quality. It is what they do on the international free agent side as well. Will this trade improve the team, I can not say but I will give it time to prove its worth. Remember Neil got a 5 year renewal and the owner will never waste money by firing and replacing him, so the fan base is stuck with him and what he does. So lets learn to roll with the punches.

    • I agree with you 100% – and how has the “quantity over quality” philosophy worked so far? Especially in the international FA market?

    • That’s a fair assessment, I think…but also not a negative one.

      The experts were clamoring the Pirates won that deal because they got LaRoche. He didn’t pan out…oops, it happens.

      Moran is in much the same boat, if the adjustments he made are transferable to MLB, he has the potential to make this a win for the Pirates regardless of what becomes of the other three guys. If he flops…the Pirates got two BP arms and a bench piece…probably not enough, in that case.

  11. You just knew this was going to be a shit show in here….To me, Tim is undervaluing Musgrove. Former top 100 pitcher with good stuff, I think he can out pitch Cole’s 2017. I’m not sold on Moran at all, love the potential of Feliz, Rivero in the backend. This BP has some real upside with Rivero, Feliz, Neverauskas and Santana. Heard that Whitley and Tucker were not options, same with Torres, Florial, Anduar, Sheffield. Heard it was either Adams or Frazier. Don’t hate the trade, but I feel they should’ve held out ’til the deadline.

    • Deadline deal or so 2017 Verlander from Detroit to Astros, compared to Cole being traded now….Who got the better of the talent?

      • Pretty substantial false equivalency here…Verlander is a clearly a superior pitcher to Cole. Insinuating the returns for them should be equal is either undervaluing one or overvaluing the other.

        As to who made out better in the deals…the Pirates or Tigers…as none of the players acquired from the Astros have seen MLB time with their new teams, proclaiming winners/losers is a tad bit premature.

          • A shitload? With Detroit kicking in cash, Houston picked up a guy who just finished second in Cy Young voting, while leading the league in K’s, and whose worst season WAR in 12 years had been 2.8..all that for 2/40. Relatively speaking, that’s pretty far from a shitload.

        • Not by many of the posters here. They expected a king’s ransom for a pitcher who is < Verlander. MY comment was to show that the return for Cole was for me as good as the Tigers return for Verlander.

  12. Whether it’s Neal, Coonley, Nutting or the ownership group, the goal of the Pirates is to contend for the playoffs every year. That inherently means minimizing risk — going for a quantity of ML ready players. That means no strip down ala ChiSox, Cubs, Astros, Phillies, etc. That means we will be disappointed with the majority of their deals. If the draft and FA signings don’t turn into home runs, it also means we may be a 75-85 win team most every year like the Rays. Welcome to “no man’s land.” Compared to 20 losing seasons, this is a better alternative. I think, however, that I’d rather push all the chips in to compete seriously for a WS for 3 years then face 5 really lean years as we strip it down and rebuild. An example would be DBacks signing JD to see how that works then blow it up and start over in a few years.
    Also, saw on MLBTR that the Yanks offered one of Adams or Frazier and Torres, Andujar, Sheffield and Florian were not on the table. If that truly was the market, we did well to get three guys that have carried top 100 prospect status.

  13. I don’t do Twitter but read Tim says something on his feed and it makes sense. One of the many problems with this deal is settling on guys that are either in MLB or MLB ready. Teams like the Pirates should be targeting elite talent even if it is GCL or low A variety and 3-4 years away. The problem is they probably aren’t talented enough to properly assess talent (that already has huge error bars due to the youth of the players) This would be a difficult job for even the best scouts let alone the Pirates. But the primary point is targeting and trading for players who profile as MLB average regulars at best isn’t going to get this club anywhere.

    • Problem with targeting elite talent is you have to offer same in order to get that elite talent. Cole, McCutchen or Harrison are NOT elite talent, good but not elite.

      • Ummm, Gerrit Cole has 50M surplus value- that is a fact and not a matter of opinion based upon projected WAR and ARB- that is more than enough to get some potential low level talent that has NOT broken out yet. The problem is.. you need to have some pretty damn scouts based upon projecting tools. And there’s nothing to suggest the Pirates have such scouts.

        • “Gerrit Cole has 50M surplus value- that is a fact and not a matter of opinion based upon projected WAR and ARB”.

          Not sure what that means, but providing something other than this to support this, makes it a fact, as it is now reads more like hearsay.

            • Sorry….but that’s not facts it’s some math to try and quantify a human and it’s filled with if’s…..

                • How about last year, you are only as good as your last year and take that assumption forward not some fairy tale expectation. Bottom line Cole is trending down, and his saving grace is his years left before FA.

            • Guesstimating the value is tricky…if you go with 4/season, $50M surplus is realistic. Of course, he’s averaged 2.8 the last two seasons…so slapping a supposed 4 on him might seem a little ambitious. Using the average of ’16/’17…meh, he’s probably sitting at $35ish surplus.

              Personally, I think Cole will flourish in Houston. He’ll be slotted into a rotation where he won’t have to be the staff ace…heck, he’ll be their #3 at best. A solid team, lots of depth, tons of offense…if Cole stayed in Pittsburgh for ’18, I would have pegged him to improve on the HRs and put up about 3.5-4 WAR…in Houston and if healthy, I think 4-4.3 will be his floor.

    • Nail on head – that is exactly what I stated yesterday….they should have gone for younger, but higher potential ceiling prospects – based on their body of work to date, it is highly unlikely that any of the 4 players they got will ever be difference makers in the ML….they more likely to be role players at best.

  14. Looks Like we weren’t being offered anything close from either team as we were reading and most names we heard were off limits. From Jerry Crasnickof ESPN so this looks like the best offer with some impact now and later and some upside

  15. Geez…I keep reading about how great or what a superstar Cole is…Seriously, he peaked 2015 and has and is a diminished pitcher that was never going to get top level prospects that were bandy around. Reference who did better Detroit and their trade of Verlander(a true ACE) or Pirates with their trade of Cole(not a true ACE) to Astros.

    For me honestly the Pirates will be better without him and then with him as time goes on. Also, for my money I think the Pirates messed up Cole with the way they handled him. Just my opinion.

  16. I could very well be wrong, but this trade looks like a salary dump. If Cole’s stock was down this much, the FO office should have let him rebuild his value and traded him at the deadline. This trade does not improve the team’s chances of competing for a playoff berth.

      • You are forgetting who owns this team. $6.75M is a lot of money for Nutting. Perhaps, NH was given a payroll number and the easiest/best way he could get there was to trade Cole. Not excited at all about the return.

  17. Better to either not trade Cole at all until July or get one bonafide ready player like Clint Frazier than four question marks. Even if it works out, it’s a bad trade when the Pirates traded for hope and potential.

  18. The Astros acquired the best player in this trade. The Pirates acquired two longshot prospects and two bullpen pitchers. Superstars, like Cole may be once again, turn good teams into championship contenders. So, the Pirates made their organization weaker with this trade.

    The Pirates need Moran to to become a 3-win third baseman, the bullpen pitchers to succeed and Taillon and Glasnow to step up the production. These outcomes would make Huntington look like a genius. Right at this moment, he looks like a GM who got fleeced.

          • Fastball SITS at 95 mph and peaks at 100 mph; has an excellent slider; has adequate control; has an adequate changeup. He has a 70-80 FB, a 70 slider, a 55 CU and command. He needs to use his slider more often.

            • Thank you Ray Searage. He may be better than his numbers would indicate, but after 5 years of history, I tend to believe he is what he is, way to hit table. That being said, I could see him needing some sort of surgery before this season is up.

              • That history includes a 5-win season. His 2017 season mimicked his 2015 5-win season save for his elevated HR rate, and this was an outlier when compared to his whole carrer.

                • 2015 was an outlier compared to the rest of his career. Every other season, including the minors and college, he has been average. As fans, we just got enamored with his 100mph fastball and 5 pitch arsenal. None of which turned into anything better than a 60.

                    • What numbers? His ERA+ outside of 2015 is consistently around 100. His FIP has gone up every year since 2015. Everything points to him being in decline.

                      I would not be surprised if he is injured. But his numbers point to him being an average pitcher.

                    • His FIP ranks 18th out of all qualified starters during the time he’s been in the league. His 2017 season was marred by an elevated HR rate that now appears to be noise and will remain so unless it becomes an enduring feature of his profile. Finally, even the Astros and Yankees thought enough of Cole to trade a bundle of second teir prospects and young MLers for him. What they did not do was to treat him like a Chris Sale. The issue with Cole is not whether he’s mediocre, but whether he’ll reach his ceiling for the Astros. If he does, then the Cole trade as it now stands will be a enormous blunder for the Pirates.

      • Responding to your edited insertion: Cole has the 18th lowest FIP among qualified starting pitchers during his time in the ML. That’s better than ‘barely above average.’ The FG database includes 176 pitchers in its qualified SP list.

  19. Tim, Why such a low review of Musgrove? Have you looked at his Minor league stats compared to Jameson Taillon. It’s going to surprise you. Musgrove stuff is very solid as well. Would not surprise me he turns into a solid #3 starter.

    • He doesn’t have a 3rd pitch, and, at the moment he profiles more as a bullpen piece.

      . Joe Musgrove was far more effective in 2017 as a reliever (1.44 ERA, with opponents hitting .196/.244/.321) than as a starter (6.12 ERA, .306/.356/.526). He doesn’t have the third pitch to start and his fastball is much more effective when he can amp it up in a relief role. The Pirates may start him, but there’s scant reason to think he’ll be good enough to do it.

  20. Although I’m frustrated with the return for Gerrit I think it’s more frustrating that after following all the hype and hope of Cole to the majors – and then adjust to the majors- a 6 year journey he’s gone before we get to see the rose bloom.
    What a jyp.

  21. I’ll admit my ignorance when it comes to the baseball analytics. I defer to Tim and many of you and appreciate the info provided. I’m not crazy about this trade. Maybe I’m wrong, but I would have liked Moran, a higher upside prospect, and the outfielder we got…..no fourth piece. Was that too much to ask? Moran gives us a major League ready 3B where we lack depth. We lack outfield depth and we desperately need more star power. Am I off base? I’ve been watching this team for a long time. Not feeling the motivation to keep investing my dollars into them.

  22. I am hard pressed to find any ‘expert’ (or even NON expert, lol) who likes this deal.

    Keith Law summed up my thoughts:

    So at the moment, at least, it appears that the Pirates got two relievers for the major league bullpen, an everyday (average) third baseman and a left-field prospect who will start in Double-A but has to hit more to profile as a regular.

    If Cole had been healthy and effective the past two years, we’re probably talking about an Andrew Miller/Chris Sale sort of package, but the 2016-17 seasons appear to have dented Cole’s trade value significantly.

    • I have to wonder how much his 2016 shoulder trouble, in particular, played into a value reduction. Shoulders are notoriously finicky injuries for pitchers, with a high recurrence rate. The performance the past two years–last year’s long ball trouble in particular–likely dented his value a bit, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the shoulder injury which really drove down his value.

      • I thought it was elbow issues. But either way, outside of that 2015 season, he never developed into anything more than a middle of the rotation innings eater. Which is valuable, but won’t bring a huge return.

        Sigh….

  23. Here is what most are missing….. What did we actually have in Cole? When the idea the team could make a wild card run last year, around mid-season, everyone wanted Nova to start that game. Later in the season it was clear that Taillon would be the guy. Even Kuhl was showing some nasty stuff toward the late end of the season.
    Fans had little confidence that Cole could be a #1. Pretty sure that is where Huntington had him-not stepping up to the be ace. Not sure that with Cole the 2018 team would be any closer to a playoff run.
    Agree that we are till in No Mans Land. That is mostly because we just lost a #2 or #3 guy for a starting 3B and a couple of arms that could really help.
    Deal = Meh. About what Cole had be doing the last couple years.

    • I posted something on here about Lance Lynn being better than him (outside of that 2015 season). Take that year out and he has only been slightly above average.

    • Basically how much does Neal wager that Cole is >4 war in the next two seasons WITH THE PIRATES. It says a lot that Cashman wasn’t offering more when he had so much excess in that system- if you think NH is getting throttled by the fans it’s probably far worse in NY. It seems like the Pirates missed the overpay bus.

  24. The way I would say is they went to a steakhouse with a gift card and filled up on potatoes, veggies, a bottle of wine and a dessert. All of which are fine in their own right but not what you want or expect when heading to a steakhouse on a fixed dollar amount. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like those things though but not a memorable meal

  25. All Trades need to be judged based on how the players actually play and not based on home town bias. 2018 will be interesting for the 3 that are on the Pirates and let’s just see what they can and can not do. Please leave the metrics in the closet until Oct 2018 for them

    BTW I would expect that Cole will be better, because of his playing with Verlander.

  26. Would love to see an article detailing changes Moran made to his swing with video and analysis, including Moran’s own take.

    Clearly Pirates believe Moran has turned himself into a much better hitter last year. This trade will live or die based on it.

  27. We won’t know for two years who “won” this trade. What if the Astros got the 2017 Cole and he never again regains TOR form? What if Moran hits .280 with 20 hrs? Lots of what-ifs. Take a deep breath everyone. It should be an interesting year.

    • You are right Rick, but the initial look of this trade is very suspect at best. Then again, I didn’t like what the Pirates got in the Malancen return. SOOO, what the fuck do I know?!

    • Spot on.

      Opinions on trades are fine, but mine, yours, and everyone else’s is just an educated guess. Heck, the initial reactions to the Bay trade were that the Pirates clearly won the exchange.

      The Pirates appear to have just solidified their bullpen and got their starting third baseman…now, let’s see how good these guys are.

  28. There are a lot of comments on here so I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this but the A’s got 3 top 100 prospects for Sonny Gray and we get……..THIS!? Excuse me for being pessimistic

  29. If Moran turns out to be as good an acquisition as Kang in the first year and a half before his injury, would we be satisfied with that?

  30. “This fan base” complained about the Liriano deal every day for a whole year because, while everyone who followed baseball knew it was a pure salty dump, Our trusty and loyal GM insisted on insulting the intelligence of “this fan base” by repeating that the deal was made for Hutchison. Even if that were true, then that would mean we have a drunk toddler asleep behind the wheel.

    Adding insult to injury is never a good tactic in any matter, let alone in public relations. Which, obviously has to matter otherwise why lie about a blatant salary dump to your fan base repeatedly? as a fan, I would have much rather preferred it if NH stepped up to the podium, jumped up on that little stool they have for him so he can reach the microphone and, told everyone the honest truth like a man. Instead he insisted on trying to convince everyone (himself included I’m sure) that he did not trade two top prospects and, a lefty starter with the potential to help a team win a World Series that year for 17 million dollars in salary relief.

    “No, no, guys I wouldn’t do that, for salary relief?……No, no way guys. I traded all that talent for Drew Hutchison. He is interesting and has pitched in Majors, kind of. Sure he pitches like a burning trash can with a right arm but…..he is interesting at least….you guys cool? No?”

    So yea all the lying and losing of prospects that never seemed to get moved to actually improve the team (certainly if taking on salary for the improvement was involved) kinda naturally pissed “this fan base” off.

    Adding to the shit stew, let us not forget to add a 1/4 cup of utterly embarrassing miscalculations like the Walker for Niese deal. With a 1/2 tsp of a Sam’s Club Latin American scouting strategy that had clearly stagnated (but, at least it was cheap and it’s not like a lot of teams depend on the Latin market for talent right?) Oh, and the secret ingredient, just a pinch of the persistent pursuit of prep players with our high draft selections (who could of guessed they would be so unpredictable and prone to injury?). Something is missing, what is it? Oh yea, NH adjusted the receipe recently to get that classic bullshit aroma we almost forgot. The last ingredient, 1 cup of the inexplicable inability to receive a proper return for a young, top of the rotation starting pitcher who is making peanuts with 2 years of control left and, was the second runner up for the NL Cy Young award just a couple years ago.

    Now its ready for this once passionate fan base to injest while we hold our collective nose and try not to dry heave. We don’t want eat too fast though, we are still in “No mans land” more ingredients I am sure will be added shortly. Enjoy!

    • Don’t forget the Nicasio humiliation of last year…that alone should have gotten NH fired, instead he is given 4 year extension – that is an organization that settles on mediocrity.

  31. My only problem is Musgrove. We have so many of these arms in the system already. This arm should have been Martes. Higher end arm. Unless we trade Nova, which I believe is unlikely

  32. Regarding the direction of the team informed by the trade:

    This was the right way to go. We have a wave of prospects due in 2019. Having three possible good contributors on the team in 2018, getting familiar with the coaching staff, the park, and–in Moran’s case–the Majors will allow those guys to be at their best when potential impact guys like Keller, Meadows and Tucker arrive, and solid other pieces like Newman and Kramer get here, too. If Moran works out, and Musgrove and Feliz make the bullpen dominant, then this team could be very good again in 2019 and 2020.

    To that end, if the team can land a solid Major League ready young catcher or catching prospect in a McCutchen trade, they’ll be in a really good spot moving forward.

    • They really didn’t get any high ceilling guys. NH negotiated from a point of weakness. Everyone in baseball thought he was worth a top prospect. None of those players will even be in the Pirates top 10 prospects. Quantity doesn’t matter, you can only have 9 on field at one time. Probably looking at another losing season. Anytime in sports you play not to lose instead of trying to win, you usually lose.

      • I can’t think of 10 guys in the Pirates’ system I would definitely rank ahead of Moran. Keller and Meadows are the only two I’d for sure put ahead of him. Tucker and Hayes have higher upsides, but a lot more risk than Moran, but ultimately I’d rank him right behind them and in a virtual tie with Newman.

      • Musgrove and Feliz are no longer prospect eligible. Again, Musgrove was ranked the #32 prospects in all of baseball in 2016. Stop acting like he’s nothing.

  33. Regarding Moran:

    Aside from a rough year in 2016, his K% have been consistently below 19%, and most recently, was only 16%, and he’s almost always hit for averages around .300. His LD% has been typically pretty high, and always above 23% since reaching AA. In limited action in the Majors, his Hard% has been 28% with a Soft% of 16%.

    All of this tells me he has a skill for contact, and good contact at that. So the only thing ever holding him back was power.

    Last season was the first time he posted a GB/FB ratio <1. That's a significant development. Now he's a player who hits the ball hard, and hits the ball hard in the air, who still draws walks and doesn't strike out a ton. That's a good hitter. Regressing his ISO to .180, he's still about an .850 OPS guy at 3B. That's an above-average regular even with below-average defense. Probably a 3-4 WAR player right away.

    If he becomes that, trading two years of Cole for five or six years of that was a fair trade. If we get two dominant back of the bullpen arms at the same time, then it's clearly a good move.

    • The more I read about Moran, the more I like him.

      I doubt he will ever hit lefties, but as a legit strong platoon option? I’m starting to believe.

        • he has some pretty clear platoon splits. Maybe i’m just trying to keep expectations low, just for my own sanity.

          in AAA last year, his OPS vs righties was in the high .900s, and his OPS vs lefties was in the high .700s. He was bad against both in 2016. In 2015 in AA, he OPS’d 926 vs righties and .607 vs lefties.

          maybe he’ll be able to OPS in the mid .700s vs lefties in the majors and not have to be platooned, but i doubt it.

          he’d hardly be the first lefty 3b to ever need to be platooned.

          Regardless, he and freese should compliment each other pretty well!

          • If the swing adjustment he made last season allowed him to hit lefties better in addition to adding power as the numbers seem to suggest, he may prove to not need a platoon partner at all. Though Freese will likely still get some starts on days when lefties pitch, alternating spelling Moran and Bell, either way, just because Freese is so good against lefties.

      • I think I’m especially high on Moran because he’s an example of actually doing the thing we’ve been waiting on most of our best hitting prospects to do–translating a very good contact skill into power production by lofting his swing.

    • Looking for comps, because comps are fun, I could see Moran turning into 2017 Travis Shaw.

      I’d be pretty happy with 2017 Travis Shaw being the Pirates’ third baseman. Upside of Justin Turner or Anthony Rendon (minus the defense) in a high-BABIP year.

  34. Tim, I would love to see your total expected WAR analysis for this deal. Two years of Cole versus the sum of the products of years of control times expected WAR from Moran, Musgrove and Feliz. Leave Martin out, figuring he busts. I’ll bet that the WAR scales tip in favor of the Bucs.

    • Well yeah the WAR scales better favor the Bucs. But the opportunity cost of these guys racking up 0.8 WAR seasons doesn’t make it more valuable to the Pirates even they end up combining for, say, 12-15 total WAR compared to Cole’s 7 or so in Houston. Especially if the majority of that WAR would come from the bullpen, the one area in which you should most be able to create basically free talent.

      Basically, you need a couple 5-6 WAR players, and I just don’t know where those are coming from in this org.

      • Good chance that Moran is a 10 WAR player over his full prearb and arbitration years. The two relievers probably add 4 WAR between them if they stay for their full careers. Your guess of 7 WAR for Cole is optimistic but probably okay. So Bucs win 2 to 1.

    • You can’t count the total WAR to evaluate the trade. You can only put 9 players on the field. If it was an actual war, more might be better. The Pirates need quality those players aren’t better than what they already have.

      • Can’t agree with your comment about quality of new players being less than what they replaced. I expect the upgrade of Moran over Freese and Musgrove and Feliz over whoever they replace in the bullpen will exceed the drop in WAR from Cole to his replacement on the starting staff.

  35. Piggy-backing off of Tim’s analysis and some prospect lists I have seen, I would have liked the trade better if it didn’t include Musgrove. I have two different but slightly modified (yet still realistic) versions:

    1. Future oriented: Keep Moran, and Feliz but replace Musgrove and Martin with a young, higher rated/higher ceiling prospect
    2. Present oriented: Keep Moran, Feliz, and Martin but replace Musgrove with the originally reported Derek Fisher – this might also help in filling the Cutch gap if traded.

    • Fisher was reportedly off limits. All those reports we’ve seen have been 90% wrong the whole time. The Cole and Harrison for frazier Andujar and Adams was a joke. Yankees offered Frazier OR Adams! And two filler prospects. Andujar was off limits. That’s the main reason why everyone is bitching about this trade return because that’s what “national pundits” filled our head with.

  36. In 2016, Musgrove, Feliz, and Moran were all in the BA’s Top 10 prospect list for the Astros. Since then, Musgrove and Feliz have pitched some good MLB innings, and they are still young with a lot of years of cheap control.
    I have no problem with re-loading with young, controllable, MLB ready players. Obviously we all wanted Kyle Tucker, and I’m not a huge fan of Moran and Martin because of their gloves. But I actually prefer this to just a bunch of toolsy long shots who might not even make it to Pittsburgh.

  37. I was expecting an outfielder in this trade to enable them to trade Cutch. That’s the biggest surprise to me. I was hoping Moran was part of the package but was hoping for a second piece better than him. It will be interesting to read the national expert feedback on this trade.

  38. Stab at a june lineup and bench….

    LF Meadows
    CF Marte
    RF Polanco
    3b Moran
    SS Mercer
    2b Moroff
    1b Bell
    C Cervelli

    Bench… Freese platoons with Moran, Luplow spells Meadows and Polanco vs righties, Diaz, Frazier, SeanRod

    But the pirates… if the deal Harrison and Cutch… will have a payroll of like 65 million… they really might as well spend up to 100 million.

    If i was GM with that roster, i’d deal for Machado for SS (god knows they’d have plenty of prospects at that point) and sign Lucroy and make the damn playoffs, tbh.

    • I preferred the Meadows/Luplow approach vs popping Frazier into the mix. I was thinking why not take a run at Profar

      • Yeah the love affair with Frazier is kinda weird.

        he’s gonna be a fine big leaguer, but i just can’t look at his numbers and see a future star.

        not that i necessarily think Musgrove, Feliz, or Moran are gonna be stars, because i dont. but the fixation on Frazier is a tiny bit weird. not that weird. but a little.

    • HATED Lucroy when he was a Brewer. He killed us. Would love to see him as a Pirate. We need a good veteran catcher that can handle the staff, be a leader, hit a little…. Cervelli just……doesn’t do it for me. (My wife really digs him though!)

          • He’s regressed significantly on both sides of the plate the last two years. You could bet on him bouncing back, but he’s an aging catcher, and those aren’t great bounceback candidates.

            • clearly he had a not-great year with the bat.

              but what says that his defense was bad? i cant imagine any of us watched a ton of Rockies and Rangers baseball.

              regardless, the team i had proposed was running out of places to throw money at. a double-barreled catcher attack was one of the only things that made sense, and a short term deal to Lucroy seems at least possible.

  39. Don’t forget Moran would have seen more playing time last year if he wouldn’t have had a facial fracture. Either way I was tired of seeing Cole out there looking disinterested every five days.

  40. I feel that there is a disconnect between Moran’s stats in AA and AAA. He seemed to very well the past three years yet nobody is impressed and the baseball America link labeled his career as “up and down.”

  41. I’m not totally sure that Musgrove doesnt get enough credit. Velocity, strikeouts, and hardly any walks. What’s not to like?

        • That’s true although he is “down” to 8/inning. I am always psyched when I see a pitcher throwing 5 or 6 different pitches. At first it makes me think they are true professionals at their craft, and then it occurs to me that they are probably relying on surprise rather than effective pitches. Just a guess mind you…

  42. Good article Tim- my thought is- Cole is NOT the first man traded if we are planning on staying in no mans land. What this does, it keeps us from being FORCED to trade Cutch. Its still the best idea, but…..Moran is enough of an upgrade vs. Freese that he could make up for some of the loss of Cole to whomever takes his place. Maybe you deal Nova too, and Cutch, and Harrison, and Rivero…..but maybe you don’t and the team will still be a .500…… but saves 7 million bucks? Maybe this is a trade with the idea of reloading for 2019/2020 vs. 2022. If that’s the case, I’m okay with that. Pirates fans don’t have enough tradition of winning that we can handle a long rebuild.

    • It’s a fair take, and actually makes me feel better about the trade. I do share Tim’s concern that they may still be trying to straddle the line of contending and rebuilding instead of a full rebuild. OTOH, I want a decent team to watch in 2018.

    • I don’t really moderate the comments often, but cut that snowflake shit out. I mean, it sounds ridiculous coming from someone who is constantly getting worked up about a baseball team in the comment section of a website. But it’s also not the discourse I want to see on here.

      If you have a point, make it. If you have an article to share, share it. Don’t get combative off the bat, and definitely don’t use a term that is made popular by neo-nazi online trolls.

      • Keep talking that neo nazi BS and you’ll lose even more subscriptions! Keep your political garbage to yourself and stick to the Pirates, please.

        • It’s not political garbage; it’s an objectively accurate observation that “snowflake” is a go-to insult of the so-called “Alt-Right” crowd, which is a heavily overtly Neo-Nazi group. Language matters, and terms popularized by hate-groups are best left out of this comment section. And besides any alleged political bent, he’s right, the sentiment and attitude connected with calling people “snowflakes” doesn’t below in a well-moderated forum where people are just trying to enjoy themselves talking about baseball.

          Honest to goodness, if Tim loses subscriptions for calling out aggressive, insulting commenting practices, under the guise of him “being political,” I don’t think he’ll be too torn up, and the experience in the comments section will likely be better for everyone else. And besides that, there’s nothing “political” about simply being decent and respectful to one another.

          • I’ve been called far worse on this site and Tim never said a word – its called selective outrage. This site used to be good, when it was primarily a site about what its titled – Pirates Prospects. It is now just an apologist site for NH and the organization.

            • The things you get called aren’t things being co-opted by hate groups. The things you get called are standard fare I-don’t-like-that-guy names. Like butt. And jerk. And cotton-headed ninny muggins. And the reason you get called anything in the first place is that you’re overtly combative with your posts; you put negativity into the forum, and that’s what you get out.

              I mean, unprompted, you just called the commentariate “snowflakes” for no reason. What do you expect? But ultimately, Tim is correct to identify you as the source of combativeness, and Tim is also correct to disapprove of the use of a word being thrown at any marginalized people who have the audacity to speak up for themselves–and anyone who supports them–by the sorts of folks who think they *deserve* to be marginalized.

              Just try communicating opinions without being so… angry?… about it. And how hard is it to avoid using *one* word en route to that? Just be decent and respectful and engage in pleasant productive discourse and no one will tell you off. It’s really that simple.

              I mean, hell, I tell the worst jokes on the board, but no one hates me because I tell them *respectfully.*

          • It’s even a sadder time that a group of ideologues, actually think that the neo Nazis are relevant in America.

            There’s not enough neo Nazis across our country, to fill Beaver Stadium .

      • “Snowflake” is a pejorative term and says more about the person who uses it than any point the person is making.

        It is coded hate speech.

        Similar to terms like “democrat party” (the use of democrat in place of democratic) which is listed as a pejorative usage in the AP Stylebook and is not proper reporting style.

        Things like this are slurs and they diminish the discourse of those who use them.

        -Wabbit

      • I’m sorry Tim, but that is a BIG LOAD of selective crap…I’ve been called far worse on this site and you said and say NOTHING……snowflakes are people who cannot handle other points of view and seek to silence them….you have several on this site.

        I would also be happy to give an accounting of the things I’ve been most critical of and an honest assessment of whether I was right or not. You and others belittled and insulted me for my opinions of the Connor Joe draft pick, the Niese trade, the Liriano trade, and numerous others….NH apologists abound, why this team is run into the ground by this incompetent GM.

        • I’ve seen a lot of name calling in the heat of arguments. If I spent my time moderating that, I’d never have articles for people to argue over.

          But I’ve seen you use this at least five times, and three in the last week. I didn’t say anything the first few times, but I’m shutting it down now.

          This has nothing to do with being right or wrong. It has everything to do with having a civilized discussion.

      • Come on Tim, while I don’t agree with BuccoFanStuckInMaryland posts at all, using the word snowflake is not a big deal. I would suggest stop trying to always get politics involved on here and online. It’s not a good business model. I’ve seen seen you rant online about issues you believe in but weren’t actually factually correct like saying someone worked for a website which they did not, or calling someone a neonazi who is actually Jewish and is hated by the extreme right. Just let it go. We know your views are extremely liberal and that’s okay. But I would suggest to only Monitor if someone makes threats or uses actual racist language on here. People are going to be dumb and name call on here but outside of extreme threats or blatant racism I’d let it be.

    • interesting thoughts from the houston side of things. Have to wonder, if they had considered Martin before, why not just draft him in the Rule V draft and pay the 50k that just occurred in December? The only difference I guess is that he’d have to be on the 40-man roster vs being able to place him in our minors system. However– even then– wouldn’t he have to eventually come up this year since he’s eligible again for the Rule V draft in 2018?

      • if they had drafted him in the rule V, they would have to have him in the *major leagues*. not just the 40 man.

  43. Here is what I hope they are thinking.
    1) They now have a decent option at 3B
    2) Musgrove had a 1.41 ERA after he was moved to the pen full time and if they can fix Nunez and turn him into Rivero 2.0, they could have a “super pen” when these two are added to the #5 bullpen in the majors
    3) Freeze is traded for “payroll flexibility”
    4) They trade McCutchen for some lower level guys with upside. Nothing major, just a hand full of lottery picks.
    5) With McCutchen gone, they move Marte to CF
    6) They take the $26m in savings and sign Lance Lynn (projected at 4 / $56 or $14 / yr) and Logan Morrison (projected at 3 / $36 or $12 / yr). Lynn slots into Cole’s spot in the rotation and Morrison plays in the OF

    Net effect
    Cole is replaced by Lynn
    McCutchen is replaced by Morrison
    Moran settles in at 3B instead of Freeze
    Musgrove and Nunez help form a “super pen”

    If they want to stay in “no man’s land”, this at least gives them a shot at 88 wins

    • That sounds nice and all (except for the Lance Lynn part, that sounds God awful) but, I do not think signing major league players is in the Pirates scope of work right now. They are focused on slashing payroll because of the recent negative events of the last two seasons. This team is going into hibernation, they just traded away their most valuable trading chip for a bag of potato chips. Their window to trade Cutch closed. Harrison has more value than Cutch does given his versatility but, again, the Pirates have no leverage in the offseason due to their very well known cheapness. The only time the Pirates can be successful with a trade is at the deadline. Cole is gone because his salary was about to go through the roof in arbitration and I am sure NH got the marching orders to get rid of him before arbitration. You can’t hide that from other GMs, the Astros waited until they got the shitty deal they wanted which is insane when you are talking about a top of the rotation, young, controllable, Cy Young finalist, All-Star PITCHER. The PIrates literally pulled essentially the equivalent of the Liriano deal except for less money and 3 more shitty prospects. Oh and we didn’t have to give up 2 of our top prospects to get the deal done…win…but yea this team will not be relevant for another 20 years until they accidentally stumble upon another Andrew McCutchen or they are sold to someone who gives a shit and hires people who actually know what they are doing.

      • Shitty prospects who 3 of them were all ranked in Top 100 prospect polls at one point or another. Musgrove coming in at #32 in ALL of baseball on baseball americas list in mid season 2016 rankings. But yes I know they are shitty because you probably never seen or heard of them.

    • I’m not a Lynn fan, but I like where your head is with the overall strategy. We should all welcome Sharktank 2.0.

      There’s no reason they couldn’t still be good this year as long as they spend the same amt of money as last year

    • Ronnyberry.

      I agree with most of what you are saying, specifically about the super pen idea.

      I don’t think the Bucs are going to go and buy FA pitchers, but the DO have the cash to do it. Hoping you’re right that they’re going for a quick reload.

      -Wabbit

    • Morrison has bad knees, that’s why he has been playing first base. Otherwise, I like the concept. IMO, hold onto Cutch and give him a QO next year if he replicates last season.

  44. Well…if they trade cutch and Harrison what are the chances the f.o. actually signs a significant piece with the 20 million or so savings??

    • Unfortunately every gm now thinks they’re free. Wouldn’t be surprised if they end up stuck with them. I’d like to swap out Harrison for Kipnis.

    • I don’t know that they’d sign a big FA piece, but they might through extension offers at Rivero, Bell and Taillon.

  45. Another point is that Musgrove is a fail-safe, he performed very well in bullpen, so even if he doesn’t work out in 18 rotation, going forward he can be a reliable bullpen arm, with years of control.

    • Your goal should not be acquiring a middle reliever for your No. 1 starter, nor should it be adding another 4-5 starter on top of the countless others we have in AAA/AA. Martin is a lottery ticket. I have no problem with that. But when the main piece’s scouting report is all over the place, we could have a major problem here.

      • Junior.

        I think this is about building a good bullpen for a young rotation. We also get a legitimate starting third baseman, which we did not have. #2019.

        -Wabbit

        • A good bullpen is a good goal, but not at the expense of your horse who even in a down year put up more than 200 innings. Tim’s been saying for sometime now that the team needs to transition some of our bevy of starts to the pen. How about now? I hope I am wrong, but this looks like the Jason Bay trade to the Red Sox all over again.

  46. The fan base had high expectations about the return for Cole. But evidently, none of the prospective players mentioned were available.

    So, we acquired, potentially, the franchise 3B, a middle rotation pitcher, a dynamic right handed receiver to couple with Felipe R, and a low-level OF prospect.

    I look at pervious trades of Nate McLouth, Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli, Justin Wilson, and Mark Melancon. Over time, the returns have generally proven favorable for the Bucs.

    I trust our return here will prove more valuable than the recent performance of Gerrit Cole

    • I’m not sure why everyone hates NH. I thought he has done a great job building the ’13-’15 teams and had some bad luck the last two years with injuries and the Kang issue. I believe he thinks this team can win in 2019 which is why he didn’t want a guy 4 or 5 years out. It makes me optimistic.

      • Bad luck, and the “best players” in McCutchen and Cole falling off dramatically. If Cole and McCutchen performed at a high level the last two years we are having different conversations about the teams success, and about those players trade value.

      • Buccotime and NorCal…. I’m with you guys on this. I think very little has to click to make this a win for the Pirates. I would hope our scouting says here are two guys who are undervalued and provide good return. I’m saying 2019 and this is a key trade. I’ve not liked Cole in recent years. He’s just not that straight up killer Ace that everyone wants a return for. Clearly the guys we got were not going to play anytime soon in Houston so it was a win for both sides.

        -Wabbit

  47. Is there a good OF power bat we can get with the $6 million we saved? or $13 million saved from two years of Cole. Who would you sign to provide middle-of-the-order power?

  48. This is the same as playing powerball. You know your not going to win, but are still disapointed when you find out none of your numbers are a match.

  49. If they’re doing this to avoid spending they’re in no man’s if they’re maxing Musgroves aptitude in the pen and going out and getting Tillman believing they can legitimately reform him and get a lefty 2b bat to make a last push with Cutch because they’re not going to get anything for him and might as well take the QO or take a flier for a year on what he can do and what Meadows might be able to do – ok. But they’ll need to spend at least for a year.

  50. If this trade greases the skids for anyone its Harrison who has Morroff/Kramer/Newman behind him. Next trade (Harrison or Nova) fwill feature Cutch replacement. No Mans Land no more.

  51. Tim or John,

    How does this work in regards to the 40-man roster? At what point do they need to make moves to clear the spots necessary? How long do they have to DFA guys or make other trades?

  52. White Sox got a top 10 MLB prospect for 3.5 years of Quintana. Rangers got a top 100 MLB prospect for a few months of Darvish. Bucs got no top 100 prospects for Cole. Not ideal.

    • FWIW, Musgrove was ranked 83rd by BA in 2016 (he pitched enough innings in the majors in 2016 to lose his prospect status).

      • Alan Hansen was a top 100 prospect at one time as well. So, what a guy was rated as a prospect is not enough reason to trade for him or to rationalize a trade. Could he still turn into a useful ML pitcher, yes. But, he does not have a nigh ceiling – probably a reliever at best.

        • Big difference in being ranked in the top 100 when you’re still in A ball and being ranked in the top 100 the last time you’re eligible.

          I agree that it doesn’t appear that Musgrove has a lot of upside, but when BA ranked him 83rd that surely came with upside. I don’t think he’s pitched enough in the majors to completely invalidate his prospect ranking from just two years ago.

        • if we got a 7th and 8th inning reliever in this trade and they are above average at the going free agent rate that like 17 million a yr in value. kontos musgrove, feliz and reviro is not a bad back end of the bullpen.

          • Turks, I think you are onto it. I think Neal has taken a decent deal that patches the holes in the Pirates’ hull and makes the boat float a bit better.

            The third baseman (Moran?) has to work out. His ISO last year was off the charts. And he’s a lefty with lift in PNC?

            I think Huntingdon isn’t walking any No Man’s Land or All In Rebuild here. I’m betting Cutch stays because he is more valuable on our team than not.

            Maybe you’re looking at a 3-4-5 of Moran, Bell and Cutch and a qualifying offer for Cutch at the end of his contract when Meadows is ready.

            Within two years, the Bucs are back in the playoffs. That’s my hunch. We’re not going anywhere this season. But next season, you’ll see the pitching staff stabilize and become consistent. Big hope for Glasnow, but Keller and others are going to step up in a way that will be serviceable with a good Royals-Type bullpen and some bats that can win games.

            -Wabbit

            • Nothing with this current team and FO decision making remotely suggests 2 years and back in a 1 game playoff to get into the playoffs. I’m not going to bust a guy who has eternal optimism, everybody goes to Disneyworld in their life.

            • The Bucs may not be done yet Wabbit. Too early to blow 2018 off. People too easily discount the probable positive regression of Marte, Polanco, Cervelli and the positive effcts that will have, not to mention continued growth from Taillon, Williams, Kohl etc.

      • Because even if Darvish is better, two years of arb-salary Cole should bring back decidedly more than two months of Darvish?

      • I don’t seem to remember seeing Yu Darvish pitch…probably because he is hurt for three quarters of every year….This return is bad, it just is. Cole will have a career year next year. Since he has already been to an All-Star game and was a Cy Young Finalist. Career year means All Star and potential Cy Young award winner. He lost his passion to play for the Pirates when he felt disrespected by the contract snafu two years ago. I don’t think his drop in performance is unrelated to that incident at all. With a new team who values his presence and contributions. I see Cole prospering for a long time. Not to mention he will have run support so he wont have to push every damn inning just to win a game 2 to 1 or 1 to 0. This was a hose job because the Pirates couldn’t wait till the trade deadline for some reason. They will never have any natural leverage in the offseason because teams know all to well that the Pirates will not re-sign players of Cole’s caliber. Why would they not hold until he is a free agent and save their promising prospects? The only time the Pirates will have leverage in any deal is at or around the trade deadline as it becomes clear who the contenders are and leverage becomes putting a team over the top. I am interested to see how many of these “successful” trades that NH has made were at or around the trade deadline? Besides the Melancon deal (which was at the trade deadline), NH has butcherd every high profile trade.

      • Also Cole is arbitration eligible now and the Pirates are afraid how much they will have to pay him because he is that good. That is why they had to trade him in the offseason prior to arbitration. That is why we ended up with this miserable deal because every team knows the Pirates are cheap and absolutely had to move Cole by a certain date. That is why nothing happened immediately as every contender was waiting for the arbitration date to get closer and closer to watch the Pirates demands diminish. Honestly the Astros probably moved to fast on this one. If they waited a little longer they could have gotten him for their low A batting coach. This is a self inflicted wound in which will be reopened year after year unless the Pirates make an F-ing decision on their direction…to me it is easy….tear it down, you F’d it up beyond repair you idiots.

    • Not ideal, I agree, but Cole is neither of the pitchers you named either. Which is why I think a lot of the hand wringing in this string is overblown. Cole’s performance has just never matched his stuff. His size, attitude and stuff say he is a 1 or 2. His results have just never been there with any consistency.

    • If Moran’s changes to his swing to generate more leverage and lift continue to play up as much as last season, he will be as valuable as a top 100 prospect.

  53. I think the trade has potential. All four players have something to recommend them. I agree that Moran is the key, but the two pitchers are interesting. If you got a starting 3B and two very good relievers, maybe one of them being a mid to low rotation starter, it looks pretty good.

  54. Just another in the long list of terrible NH trades….this may go down as the worst however. Moran has basically been a bust after being drafted in the first round a few years ago. He will be 26 in 2018.

    Musgrave and Feliz are young pitchers with some potential, but not high ceilings. They are both likely middle relievers, back of rotation guys at best. The Martin kid sounds like Jaff Decker. I don’t expect he will ever start a game in Pittsburgh, if he even reaches the majors.

    I would rather have Cole for the next 2 years, than take this trade – and I was nerver a big Cole fan to begin with. NH should have just walked away, hoped that Cole pitched a good first half of 2018, and trade him at deadline when prices are inflated. Look at what the Cubs paid for just 2 months of Chapman.

    The Astros GM is probably laughing – he gets Cole and didn’t give up anything meaningful from his WS roster or farm system. To not at least get Tucker or Whitley is a crime, even if that was all the Pirates got.

    Well, I guess the good news is – Indianapolis got better for 2018.

    NH will likely get a raise and 4 more years extension for this genius trade. He just continues to weaken this franchise with nearly every decision he makes. Just total incompetence. Do you think the Pirates will put that $6M plus into the major league roster? Dream on.

    • Great trade for the Astros. NH should have walked away and played again in July. Maybe Nutting is so incredibly cheap that it forced NH’s hand.

      • I think it is a great trade for the Astros, made possible by all of the depth that they’ve developed. That doesn’t mean, though, that it isn’t a good trade for the Pirates. The key will be whether our scouts and analysts are right about Moran, Musgrove, and Feliz. They nailed it with Rivero and Hearn, but have their share of misses too.

    • Moran was not a bust he was being blocked in Houston. They have an unbelievable lineup. With Bregman at third.

      • Moran was drafted in the first round by the Marlins almost FIVE years ago. He will be 26 in 2018. Yes, he hit well in 2018, but I would caution you that it was in the PCL. Jaff Decker was a pretty good hitter in the PCL.

        • Cole was drafted in the first round by the pirates around FIVE years ago. He’s a pitcher coming off a 4+ ERA year giving up a lot of homers. The thing people should arguing isn’t the value of the return, but the type. Ie) could’ve gotten a high a stud and maybe one c grade pitcher instead of what we got. Cole was never going to get you anything more.

              • Exactly, they were all wrong then and now they are saying this isn’t the best deal, hopefully all the “experts” will be wrong one more time.

            • But at the time it was viewed as a good trade, LaRoche was a top prospect, Hansen and Moss were both highly regarded. This one is being evaluated before anyone takes the field. Sometimes what the scouts see is different then what the John Sickels and Keith Laws of the world see. I’m willing to let the success of this trade be determined on the field.

              • As am I, but I think the team would have been better served waiting until July and letting teams in the playoff hunt bid on him and then take the best offer. There is not one sure thing here. Hope I am very wrong.

    • It doesn’t look good, but it wasn’t that bad. Cole hasn’t been a Darvish or Quintana the past two years. If Moran is a solid play musgrove puts up a low to mid 4 era and Feliz can pitch okay than we won. Unless Cole turns back into his 2015 self

    • More like look what the Cubs got for Jeff Smardjza….I probably spelled that wrong but the answer is….more…a lot more…..They got a top prospect for ever weird letter that isn’t supposed to be in last names. That’s how real GM’s do trading, they get optimum return in high leverage situations. Problem is the Cubs have a real GM. We have the corn dog vendor double shifting. He is like the smartest corn dog vendor at PNC though so, I mean, that’s about as good as it gets for Pirate fans. Ugh I can’t stop thinking about this trade and all the previous trades of inferior pitchers for much (X100) better returns. Problem is that other teams know the Pirates are way too cheap to re-sign Cole while, they also know very well that only a few teams will have the money to sign Cole as a free agent. That will never change as long as the ownership stays the same. We will never have offseason leverage. Our perids of leverage will only occur during the season at or around the trade deadline as playoff contention would provide the leverage. Otherwise, the rich teams will wait two years, keep their prospects that would be traded in the deal, and sign him to 100M plus deal. This will not change, ever, again unless we have an owner or ownership group that can put pressure on other teams by placing doubt that a player may not be on the market in 2 years because, the Pirates would spend the money to sign said player. Or if MLB implemented a hard cap, not going to happen.

  55. I am prepared to watch this play out. We have to keep in mind that Cole can be a bit emotional for lack of other words and he has never panned out as the #1 Stud Starter that he thought he was as evidenced by his 19=22 record over the last 2 years.. Moving to the Astros with their rotation and a tougher league means his ERA stands little chance of being under 4.00 and he will move into the 4-5 role in the rotation.

    • Remember that year he was in the Cy Young voting and made the NL All Star team? Yea, that offseason the Pirates first of all low-balled the hell out of him because they could. Second, they “forgot” 10K in incentives he had earned the prior season for making the All Star team (like the cheap bastards they are). Cole was pissed and felt disrespected understandably. The Pirates were under no obligation to pay more than the minimum however, it is good form to show a player you appreciate him and his contribution to the team by not giving him the minimum raise possible AND forgetting the incentives promised in his previous contract. That occurred in the disasterous offseason that saw Walker traded for “insert synonym for awful here” Niese. I remember talking to my dad about how those two incidents were going to burry this team. You can’t treat your best player like a soda machine and trade the leader of your team for a turd that your left handed neighbor left on your lawn cause you let your dog crap in his all the time and expect your clubhouse to respond well. Sure enough the downward spiral occurred and in a much swifter fashion than ever imagined. Pedro’s (another dope move by NH) yips and Cutch cutting his dreads were an ominous foreshadow for the club. I would not be in the least bit surprised to see Gerrit Cole to return to his All Star form. In fact I am fully expecting him to have his best season as a pro and continue to improve. This return is not in line with the caliber of player and position that he plays. Cashman probably said “You won’t do it” and NH said “Oh yea? Call me a nerd one more time and I’ll trade him to the Astros for a return not in line with the caliber of player and position that he plays”….Cashman: “……Nerd”….NH pulled the trigger.

    • I agree with your assessment but given Verlanders comments about how Houston’s video and analytics departments helped him, seeing how Chuck improved, given fresh voices in McCann and Strong working with him, and having Kuechel selling him on the off speed stuff, I feel like the Astros are the one team that could make Cole look like Jake Arrietta — underachiever turned legit ace.

    • How can you say Moran doesn’t sound like am impact player? He’s legit. He was the one player I was hoping was included in the deal. Him and bell will make a great 3/4 combo in the lineup.

    • Musgrove and Martin don’t in the slightest. Moran from what I’m ready has a chance to be a slightly above average third baseman to a all star level 3B ( I do feel like that’s a big stretch for all star) and Feliz could be the next Rivero if things play out well. Bottom line Feliz could be an impact reliever and I’d say Moran is 50/50 maybe a little either way to being one.

  56. “This is Houston dealing from a position of strength, and to be completely honest, they’re not losing enough to say they even lose depth.”

    From another article. Those four aren’t bad, but just seems like we were the desparate ones. We took Astro’s useless prospects. Don’t see much upside, and definitely don’t see the need of another #5 starter when we already have Brault, Kingham, Glasnow, Holmes, etc etc in AAA…

    I hope Moran proves me wrong.

  57. Why move Cole now, on January 13th, unless you or blown away or “can’t say no”? It’s really tough to conclude the return here meets that standard. I feel like we don’t have the complete picture

    • Because as teams sign FA’s or do other trades, the demand goes down for your player. A trade offer would not be better in a month unless you are lucky enough to have a big $$ team thats a contender have a big time pitcher goe down, and have a good farm system to trade for cole. That’s a lot of if’s

    • NH was probably Double Dog Dared to do it. Every GM in the league knows that Huntington can’t say no to the triple D.

    • Could it be related to Cole’s potential salary coming out of arbitration? If this is the case, NH was most likely given marching orders to get rid of Cole before arbitration which would surely see his salary increase dramatically (in PIrates $ terms). In this situation contending teams could essentially wait the Pirates out until their demands drop to a level the other team (in this case the Astros) is comfortable with. This theory would explain why Cole was aggressively marketed during a time where the PIrates have little leverage due to their own thrift. It would also explain the long trail of rumors. What most likely occurred appears to be that NH in his desperation contacted several teams with demands for a trade. Every team said “No” biding their time waiting for the inevitable lower set of demands to arrive as they knew the NH had to move Cole by certain date. This process most likely occurred several times with several teams until the Astros were comfortable. With the least shitty of the deals on the table NH had to pull the trigger. Don’t kid yourself anyone, this was not a good deal and, in fact, it is strange one since it is not a rebuilding move as all 4 players have either spent time in the majors, or are on the fringe. I think our confusion about direction is because the Pirates are taking a strange down the middle approach. Essentially The Pirates are not rebuilding nor are they building, they are preparing for hibernation. A steady flow of sub .500 seasons, just enough to keep some people in the stands and peaks in interest with every winning streak but, the ending will be the same. A mediocre but profitable for ownership team. I am sure they have calculated how to maintain this trajectory and the Cole trade return provides evidence for this trajectory. They have no interest in winning in the long or short term. They are trying to find a balance in merchandise and ticket sales, payroll and league subsidies to where the ownership can recoup whatever money they spent in effort to contend. I have to say, if this is true, they are trying much harder to not contend than they ever did to contend. Nobody go to their games. Tim shutdown the site. I’ll fire up the time machine and we will all take a ride back to the good old late 90s. Because, that is where managment appears to be taking us anyways.

      • Well since they already had agreed to his salary on Friday…you unfortunately wasted some time of yours to write that post.

  58. Classic NH. Made same stupid mistake he Made in Walker trade settling for near ready mlb talent. Most of these guys profile to be average regulars at best. We have plenty of those- it’s a nh specialty. What this team needs is elite young talent. It can be in low a ball.

    All these sort of players will do is move our draft choice from 11th to 14th

    This trade is illustration A why I didn’t want nervous Neal extended.

    Trading pieces such as Cole was too damn important to let nh do it.

    • You are 100% right. If this is all he could get for Cole, what do you think he would get for Harrison or Cutch? He is just total incompetence and in way over his head….until he is gone and the Pirates have an owner who wants to win, we are doomed.

        • Who are you to tell me that? Are you s snowflake or NH apologist? Go back and reread my opinions about the Liriano trade – when some people on here actually thought Hutchison was going to be a good starting pitcher. Or that Connor Joe and will Craig were good first round picks. Or that Walker for Niese was a good trade for the Pirates.

          When these guts contribute to a winning team in Pittsburgh, you can remind me. Until then, grow up or get thicker skin.

          • Folks stop arguing. BFSiMD observed a coin being flipped several times and those his brain chose to remember all *accidentally* turned out to be tails. And he goes on and predicts the next flip will also be tail.

            • How long did it take for you to come up with that very odd comeback? You can do better than that.

              I’m not always right, but I often been right – and people ridiculed my opinions on the Ike Davis trade, the Niese trade, the Connor Joe pick, the Liriano for Hutchison charade, the Gosselin signing, and I will be right about the Will Craig pick. And then there was the Nicasio embarrassment. You were probably one of those people defending all of the above.

              • Consider you think it’s odd, I’d say I can’t put it more precise while you can still understand. The point is, even if you predict all tails on a fair coin flip, you’ll be right half the time. So keep bragging.

          • Don’t forget about nhs track record with targeting starting pitchers and nieses very valuable options many said would make Neal look smart.

            • The apologists on here either have short memories or too proud to admit they were wrong in defending the numerous bad trades and other NH decisions….

            • What about dealing for Burnett, Liriano, Happ, and even Locke? All those SP acquisitions were successful to one degree or another.

              Hey, but keep holding onto the occasional bad deal to feed your hate if it makes you feel better.

              • Take a close look at the current composition of this team and the future help that’s on the way… take a real good look. Or continue to delude yourself that 2013-15 was the norm as opposed to some sort anomaly.

          • it seems that you are the one with the thin skin- Nutting isn’t the problem you numbskull- there are other investors that are owners…..he can’t put in more money without the others putting in more money, it’s an ownership group. Its been widely publicized that since the other owners don’t want their ownership diluted, that he CAN’T spend more money……it is what it is- quit complaining, realize that trying to make good solid moves on a limited budget is HARD, and get over it.

            • You always seem so knowledgeable about this.
              Do we know what percentage Mr. Nutting owns
              and who would be other owners and what
              they own?

              • Does this have anything to do with it? The agreement is that the % can’t be changed without agreement from all parties. Whether Nutting has 90% or 55% the agreement stipulates that the % cannot be changed which means Nutting can’t contribute more money towards the capital………Several news outlets had reported that nutting wanted to increase his share and put more money into the team, and was stonewalled.

          • I can’t tell if you’re a troll or really this much of a jerk. There are ways to criticize moves without sounding like some guy who called in to the talk radio show on his way to work.

          • Even if some people thought Hutchinson might be something that trade is not a loss. Liriano was in steep decline, he gave up 158 baserunners in 97 innings this year. The value wasn’t there, the pirates traded him (and sure, they got nothing) but they used that money to get Ivan Nova who has outperformed Liriano. it was a net win on the trades that day.

      • No, BFS. The 3 yr playoff proves that this FO more frequently hit well with trades and FA signings, bringing in Hanrahan, Grilli, Melancon, Byrd, Cervelli, Liriano, Burnett, Happ,among others.

        Notice that none of the aforementioned did anything noteworthy after they left the Bucs.

        Currently, Rivero and Hearn are a far greater return than Melancon has provided since he left Pittsburgh

        • I never criticized the Melancon trade – he got more for Melancon than he did in this trade. NH has done some good trades when the stakes were low and the trades involved reclamation pieces or part time players. BTW, Happ has done well in Toronto. Also, I thought Liriano and Grilli were free agent signings, not via trades? Unless you are defending the Liriano trade to Toronto? Byrd trade would have been great, if he would have re-sgned Byrd the next season. I do agree, Hanrahan, Melancon, Burnett, and Cervelli were all good trades – but I can give you a longer list of bad ones…

          • What bad ones? Not saying there aren’t any but there really haven’t been a ton. The Liriano, Walker, and Jason Rogers trades are all that come to mind. And that is too many but doesn’t out weight either melancon trade, Cervelli, Burnett, happ, or Nova trades.

          • Making good trades with limited resources isn’t easy. When you are the short stack at the table, you have to occasionally fold, and occasionally you have to bluff.

        • All of those guys were either past their primes and or injured. None of those moves were high profile nor did they cost much money. That is the rule, trades or free agent signings must be cheap. The Melancon deal was a matter of right time right place. A second grader could have made that deal and actually probably could have done better.

          How you don’t get at least a top prospect, an MLB high quality talent and another prospect in return for a young front of the rotation starter, with 2 years of control left, who by comparison is making peanuts and, is only a few years removed from a second runner up finish in the NL Cy Young voting is beyond me.

      • I tend to think this is a pretty good return for Cole. However, I don’t think Cole was a very good pitcher.

        • On one hand the trade needs to be viewed considering that Cole could light the world on fire in Houston. Maybe 50% chance. The chances of the trade return guys being far above passable doesn’t seem great. Basically the Pirates are rapidly burning through players who can produce 3+ WAR and they aren’t stocked with guys who seem capable of that production.

    • Haven’t even read whole comment but settling for near MLB talent wasn’t even close to the Walker trade. Niese was an established crappy back end of the rotation major leaguer not a near MLB guy

    • There is no reason to think that Moran can’t be an all-star third baseman. If he is, he’s worth Cole all by himself. Why don’t we just wait and see, huh?

      • There is actually VERY GOOD reason to think that Moran can’t be an All Star 3b. That would be an unlikely outcome for an elite prospect let alone Colin Moran. The fact such a comment has 6 likes is very telling.

        • Can’t be and won’t become one due to odds of life are completely different things. He was a #1 draft pick, and a high one at that, which hints at his talent level. Typically players whom don’t have all-star talent don’t get picked in the top ten, whether or not they eventually make the most of that talent is another question.

    • John W. That is what I thought we would actually get like Forrest Whitley and some lower tier prospects considering the options we have in the upper minors.

      • An inherent problem dealing with Houston exists: Insiders like Rosenthal, Bowden, & Hayman all mentioned the Astros weren’t willing to include their big three for Verlander, so they sure weren’t going to include them for Cole.

    • Yeah, too bad he didn’t seek out you and that supposed Buc fan in MD’s feedback before consummating the deal.

      Gimme a break!

    • YOu can’t even compare the two trades….Niese had been in the league for awhile and Walker was a Super2 entering his last year of arb. Pirates got 4 players, 3 MLB ready and a prospect for Cole…For this trade to work out, what needs to happen in your slanted mind?

      • The primary point is NH is aiming for players that are near MLB ready. By definition they won’t have as much potential as guys who are 2-4 years away. WTF are we looking for a return in the Cole trade that can play 3b in 2018? This team isn’t going anywhere this year with or without Moran. Should have aimed for LESS quantity and MORE quality in this trade but NH must get extra credit if we can get this team near 79-80 wins instead of 75-77.

      • Catch22, would the cubs have traded Arrieta for that package? would the cards have traded Martinez for that package or even Lance Lynn? im thinking no….the same evaluators that made this trade had Cole as our best pitcher with the pirates…

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