Could the Pirates Trade Gerrit Cole This Offseason?

The first day of the Winter Meetings included a few rumors with teams asking the Pirates about Gerrit Cole. The rumors have varied in terms of whether the Pirates might actually deal Cole, and all of them have been along the same lines of the other team just checking on the player. We know that the Pirates are listening, but they aren’t actively shopping Cole.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not open to a move. In fact, Buster Olney reports tonight that there is a belief the Pirates would move Cole if they found the right match.

This isn’t really a surprise, and shouldn’t be big news. Any team should be willing to move a player for the right match. The question that is unanswered here is what exactly is “the right match”? Is it something that a team would realistically pay, in line with what you’d expect a team to ask for if they’re willing to sell? Or is it a higher price, where the Pirates would be wanting a premium, believing that they could contend.

I know I’ve repeated the “are the Pirates buyers or sellers” thing over and over, and we still don’t really have an answer. This doesn’t give us a direct one. But I’d guess that this probably leans more toward the idea that the Pirates are willing to sell, especially when paired with the speculation at the start of the week that they could deal Andrew McCutchen this week, and seem like sellers.

There shouldn’t be a middle ground here. If the Pirates deal one of McCutchen or Cole, they need to deal the other. As I detailed today, this isn’t a team that looks like a strong contender, and removing your best projected hitter or pitcher would sink any chances of contending in 2018. If one of these two moves, the other needs to move.

Adding to the Cole news today, Bill Brink says that the Orioles are one of the teams that have asked about Cole.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 13, 2017 2:31 pm

    Well, the Cards just got a lot better – getting Marcel Ozuna.

    • Depends if you’re a believer that Ozuna can replicate the .355 BABIP and 24% HR/FB rate from last season. Previous 2 years he was league average.

  • With the Cardinals acquiring Ozuna, it is obvious now is the time to go for that short rebuild. We cannot compete with Cubs, Cards and Brewers with the present construct of the roster.

  • Could Cole’s value be higher at the trade deadline?

  • The more I think about it, the Pirates need to burn the whole thing down. Trade Cutch, Harrison, Cole and Rivero. Load up minors with top 100 prospects. Set up the team to fringe contend with a young team in 2019 and contend for years to come starting in 2020. We endured two decades of horrible baseball. We can make it through a dumpster fire year in 2018.

  • I love Cole, but sometimes I just look at him and think- he’s not going to put it together here, but he will win a Cy Young elsewhere. So, I would trade him while he has a lot of value but hopefully out of the division.

  • Michael Sanders
    December 13, 2017 6:17 am

    I can see Cutch, Cole, Marte, Cerveli, Harrison, and Mercer all potentials for a move this winter with the Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, and A’s as partners.

    • I’d keep Marte. He has 4 more years of control, so he could be around when the team becomes competitive again. It’s hard to find players with the combination he offers in speed, defense, arm and extra base power.

  • Too bad. Cole Train is one of my favorite Pirates. Always reminded me of a Josh Beckett-type. He’ll be a winner somewhere. Too bad it couldn’t be in Pittsburgh. Seems we’ve resigned ourselves to the belief that the window is closed.

    • The window has been closed for almost 2 years.

      • Why? Because Zips and Fangraphs have deemed it so.

        • Is this gonna be your hill to die on all winter? 😉

          • Pretty sure I got slaughtered on it last winter, too. I’m nothing if not persistent.

            • Sticktuitiveness. When the steel industry died in Pittsburgh I was all over trying to get an interview. Out of the blue a guy in DC calls and asks if I would be willing to interview as his successor as a National Director of a Construction Labor Program. We had lunch and talked and I told him thanks, but I could not survive in the economy of DC, but how did I get the interview in the first place? He responded that he had heard of me and my rep in Construction Labor Relations so he called my old boss and asked his opinion. My former boss told him that I was good, but obstinate to a fault. Then he said “I always thought Jim was an asshole so, if that was his opinion, you were worthy of an interview. Obstinate works.

        • It was still open after 2015 but Neal basically slammed it shut with the niese for Walker trade and letting vogie/nicasio battle for other rotation spot going into 2016.

          • I see your point, but even with Vogie and Nicasio splitting starts, the team would’ve been a playoff team if Cutch, Cole and Liriano all hadn’t crapped the bed simultaneously.

        • something needs to be done. They can not go into 2018 with the same roster and expect a better outcome – that is the definition of insanity

          • You’re right, need better bullpen and 3B production to go with bounce back performances from Marte, Polanco and Cervelli (at least defensively).

            Seems everybody either wants them to blow up the roster or make a splash by blowing the budget to go for it in Cutch’s last season. I’m of the opinion, they can be good enough to be a playoff team with a couple under the radar moves and productive seasons from best players.

            • I think the ’17 season was a mess from jump. But the number of absences taught us that we have some strong points and some young players who can help at the MLB level. So, out of need, we were able to accomplish a few baby steps forward with guys like Osuna, Moroff, and Luplow.

              Then we took two giant steps backward by trading to get Sean Rodriguez and the $7 mil remaining on his 2 year contract, and another few steps backward by awarding the managerial team long term extensions after finishing 12 games under .500! And we are still sitting on a $2.2 mil International allotment.

  • I think Cole to the Yankees seems like such an obvious move. I’d give NH a pass for the next four years if he could somehow get Torres out of the deal.

    I feel like the best return for Cutch will be the comp. pick (and it’s slot money) next year.

    I feel like Moroff/Frazier/S-Rod make J-Hay expendable. I’ll miss him.

    I think you hold onto Cervelli, but split time much more evenly with Diaz to try and keep him healthy. Intangible stuff, but the guy fires guys up. If J-Hay is gone, they’ll need that.

    Rivero doesn’t go anywhere until July, at which point you take whichever Yankee you didn’t get for Cole.

    • Since the Yankees traded Castro in the Stanton deal, there’s no way they include Torres. I’m pretty sure they intend him to start this year.

  • justinblain1996
    December 12, 2017 10:56 pm

    Said it for awhile now. This is an offseason where the Pirates need to sell. Not a fan of going for it one last time with Cutch, when the division is probably out of reach and you are fighting for one of the wild card spots. Trade now while the return can be higher and be ready to contend when Keller, Hayes and all are major league ready. They should definitely trade Cutch, Harrison, Cole this offseason

  • I think I would only trade Cole for power hitting mlb ready 3b. Then I would trade from our middle infield and starting pitching logjam to upgrade the rotation. I think the team needs to increase attendance and viewership with the tv deal expiring soon. So while the best thing might be blowing the whole thing up, I could see a reasonable case for finding a stud 3b and/or top of rotation guy. Just spitballing here.

    • The kid Colin Moran from Astros organization fits the bill, especially considering he’s blocked by Bregman. I’d trade Cole if Moran was centerpiece of the return.

      • Colin Moran a “centerpiece” of a trade for Cole? If any trade for Cole with Houston does not start with Kyle Tucker we need our collective heads examined. Moran had some good numbers offensively in his 2nd year at AAA in the PCL (where all offensive numbers are inflated), but not somebody with big power, and not much glove at 3B.

        • Ok, I’ll compromise with you, Moran and Tucker. You choose who is centerpiece of deal.

          • Last Summer when Houston was trying to get a front line SP (Cole) I put a list together – Tucker, Martes, Whitley,Y Alvarez, Cameron, and then in 6th was Colin Moran. I thought we could possibly get him for almost nothing as a throw-in, but I still think Tucker, Whitley, and Alvarez to be better for the Pirates long term.

            • I read where he had an OPS north of 1.200 in limited action last season. Didn’t realize it was 12 AB’s. File my comment in the stupid file. Compared to what Tucker has done thus far in his career, he’s a dog.

  • The low return for Stanton is the disturbing yet enlightening. Put your best team on the field that you can regardless what you can get in return. No return is absolute. Cutch and Cole are our best, play them until they are no longer under contract. No WAR return no lottery picks no wait on the next prospect who will disappoint or not disappoint. Best team you can field today here and now and that’s it..its really that simple. Rebuilding to a team that plays one playoff game and that’s our pinnacle is really not rebuilding.

    • I think it’s problematic to conflate a Stanton trade and a Cole trade…two totally different situations.

      Even Cutch, with just a year of control and on the decline, will probably pull in a similar return to what the Marlins received…and, in my opinion, it will actually be a better return.

      • A better return for when? If you can tell me today…this minute..that keeping a proven commodity to win today is better you are missing my point.

    • The return on Stanton was 280 Million. If you can’t win with him, then you don’t need that cost.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 12, 2017 9:21 pm

    IF – that is a big IF – the Pirates can get a great return for Cole, I’d trade him. However, the trade would need to include top prospects at positions of great need in the Pirates system and at the major league level – namely corner outfielders, third base, catcher, and shortstop – in that order.

    However, I don’t have a lot of confidence in NH’s ability to get a great return for Cole.

  • Tim, what type or level of player would you want in return for Cole
    based on need and position also considering Pirate prospects on the way.
    No need to name the player.

    Example (and this is just my example) “Top 2-3 prospect in a team’s
    pipeline who is a catcher who will be moving up to AAA for their 2018 season,
    plus a top 5 prospect as a corner outfielder entering AA.”

    • I’m not tim… But if you’re trading Cole, you are getting the best package you can get. You don’t care about position.

      Trade for a catcher later if you want a catcher.

      Trading Cole is something that you absolutely cannot screw up. You need potential starpower coming back.

      • Jay, I see your point, understand and agree.
        I’d still like to hear Tim’s thoughts though.
        It would give insights on his views of our needs
        in the Pirates pipeline.

      • How exactly do you ensure you don’t “screw up” when trading away a proven MLB player for prospects?

        It’s always a big gamble when dealing with unproven players.

    • From the Yanks I would like Andujar , possibly one of their better OF (Frazier?) prospects and a couple of promising lower level prospects, they have a couple of flame throwing pitchers in the lower levels. Not sure they would give up Andujar but I think he would be a great target.

    • I would want good players. I don’t think they should be targeting specific positions, unless it is the best return.

  • Cole and Harrison to Yankees for Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier?
    I would also trade McCutchen to SF for Beene and Ramos.
    And, one more while I’m at it…Polanco and Brault to Miami for Yelich.

    • Torres isn’t going to be traded, imo.

      • I agree, but Harrison would give Yanks some top of the order speed and could be a bridge till Andujar comes along.

    • Don’t think yanks gonna give up Gleyber maybe we could get Sheffield and Frazier instead. I love Heliotrope Ramos but he is a risk at least 3 years away

      • Yanks have many good options to matchup on a deal for Cole. Bucs only have one potentially successful model. Whether or not Yanks, logical that something happens soon.

    • Polanco and Brault (and Meadows and Keller) for Yelich, because that’s more likely what it would take.

      • You are talking about the Marlins here. 🙂

        • Yelich is cheap and controlled. Stanton wasn’t.

          • I understand that point, but the Marlins are the Marlins. Lord knows what their intentions are again?

            • Did you see Cards got Ozuna from Marlins for a whole lot of mediocre to slightly above mediocre pitching prospects?

              Maybe there’s hope for Pirates acquiring Yelich for a bunch of A ball talent not named Baz.

              • I posted in another thread that this move should mean the Pirates are sellers. Getting a controllable power bat who is also above average defensively really improve the Cards. Plus, they gave up one power arm and not much else. MLB is a frustrating sport to follow if you are a small market fan.

              • They could be AAA. Pirates have pitchers that are 3-5 starters that will never make the majors with the buc’s.

      • Keller and Meadows….Have you gone over the edge ??? I like Yelich but I would rather have Ozuna, but I wouldn’t be making a 4 player deal that includes both Meadows and particularly Keller.

        • I wouldn’t do the deal either, Leo. I’m just illustrating the point it will take a whole lot more to get Yelich than Polanco and Brault.

  • Cutch to Cleveland for either Mejia or Tristan McKenzie+.
    Cole to NYY for Frazier, Andujar, & 2 a-ball lotto tix.
    JHay to Mets for Rhome and Kay

  • Sell cutch and Cole and jay hey. But add something for the 2018 team too They wouldn’t profile as a horrible team if they indeed did get an outfield piece to plug in and the fans already are at a low point and attendance wouldn’t necessarily drop below a certain point anyway. Put another way keeping Cole and cutch and adding at the margins won’t draw more fans out. So while I say never do anything for the fans anyway as the only reason it is even more important not to do so now.

    • Add Cervelli to the sell list but it may be impossible to get good talent due to his salary.

    • Cutch, Freese, Cole, Rivero, and Cervelli All go. Get what you can, do it all AT ONCE. The idea here is to get a core turnover that is young and hits MLB together at the same time. doing it peacemail and you get a team that has enough to be 82-80, but will never will it all

  • Is anyone interested in Cutch besides lukewarm interest from the Giants? I don’t recall hearing any other rumors.

    • I could see Texas, Boston, Giants, Rockies, Dbacks, Phillies, Mariners, Blue Jays or Indians on the basis of positional DCs on Fangraphs.

  • They would miss such a huge opportunity to stock up for years to come if they fail to deal Cutch, Cole and Jhay.

    • Perhaps, but does any of this–are the Pirates buyers or sellers; are they going for it in 2018 or are they building for the future?–really matter, because this ownership clearly is not willing to spend what it is going to take to become a legitimate contender. They want to use the $100 million dollar payroll figure like it is earth shattering, headline news. Perhaps it was, back in 2005, but it is not nearly enough in this day and age for anyone who wants to contend to win a World Series.
      The Pirates have done a nice job under Neal Huntington in rebuilding the farm system. They have not done squat, except lie to the fan base, when it comes to supplementing the farm system with established, veteran players when and where needed, in order to be a legitimate contender.
      A solid player procurement and development system is the foundation for every team, most especially small market teams. But with the exception of the 1969 N.Y. Mets, and the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, I can think of no team that has attained championship caliber status by relying mainly if not entirely on their farm system. It just is not realistic to expect that your farm system is going to carry you entirely.
      We were told by this front office that if the Pirates were to become contenders, then it was going to be done largely through home grown talent. We were also told that if the fans supported the team, that ownership would spend the money to bring in talent when and where necessary to supplement the farm system. HOW MUCH LONGER ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT FOR THAT TO HAPPEN?!?!?!?
      So, to me, it really does not matter whether or not the Pirates “go for it” for one last time in 2018 with Cutch and Cold and J-Hay, or if they decide to rebuild by trading the aforementioned to acquire young, controllable talent. Either way, this ownership has shown NO WILLINGNESS WHATSOEVER to spend the necessary $$ to become a World Series contender. If they have a fire sale and go out and acquire a boatload of young talent, we will be right back here in another five years having this same conversation, because the ownership, assuming it is still the Nutting regime, in all likelihood will not have changed their position.

      • This chapter has closed. Rebuild with youth. We have some good assets to sell for top talent. Hopefully we get another 4/5 year window in a couple years. Nutting is Nutting. No changing that and not worth the time and energy to review again. Until he sells, we just work the farm system and sell and acquire youth and hope for a magic year or 2.

        • Michael Sanders
          December 13, 2017 6:20 am

          It’s sad because they wasted all those years with good players. All they needed to do was sign one or two more decent starers as opposed to AAAA and they could have been in the playoffs consistently instead of fighting for a wild card spot.

        • ” Until he sells, we just work the farm system and sell and acquire youth and hope for a magic year or 2.” This is precisely what I am sick and tired of, Bill, and I know that I am not alone in that sentiment.
          I don’t expect this ownership to spend with the Yankees and Cubs of the MLB world. I do expect that they will be willing to spend what it takes to win. I think that that can be done, given the state of the Pirates farm system, in the $115 to $120 million range. It just angers and frustrates me that for whatever reason, they are locked on to the $100 million plateau and will not budge from that.
          This revolving door concept of trading veterans for youth and hoping that in 2-3 years that that whole process pays off is just not acceptable to me. Run the franchise like it should be run or sell the team to someone who will.

          • The only thing you can do to help this along is not show up and don’t watch. I’m rooting for attendance under 1m this year.

      • If ownership is unwilling to spend what is needed to be legitimate contenders, then how were they legitimate contenders just a few years ago?

        PS – The KC Royals won a WS and went to another one by relying mainly on homegrown talent. For that matter, the current WS champs won by drafting and developing so well, too.

        • You make some good points, Scott. Now let me respond. First of all, the Pirates of 2013-2015 were good, competitive teams because the farm system produced talent and while they did it on the cheap, the front office brought in some veterans who supplemented the youth quite well. For example, A.J. Burnett who was acquired for low level prospects, and the Yankees picked up most of his contract. Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau were brought in for not much by way of prospects. Edison Volquez paid off, as did J.A. Happ. And there were others, too.
          As far as the K.C. Royals go, yes, they had two huge seasons, largely with home grown talent. Houston just won it all, although they traded for Verlander, Brian McCann, and acquired Charlie Morton (I think as a free agent) who was finally healthy (something he never seemed to be for very long in Pittsburgh). So the Astros certainly blended youth with veteran experience, WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE WAY TO GO.
          I am a huge proponent of developing home grown talent in the farm system. I love to watch that whole process unfold. But, once that is attained, your ownership has to be willing to pay those players when the time comes, and also make trades and free agent acquisitions to supplement the youth. It’s an on-going, quite literally, 24/7/365 process. Not something that you focus on doing for a couple or three years, then tear it down and start over again. At least not in my opinion.
          If you are the kind of person who just wants to go to PNC Park four or five times a year, get your bobblehead, see some fireworks, enjoy the ball park, and that satisfies you, well then fine. I want an organization and an ownership that is committed to winning. I grew up watching the Bucs of the 1970’s. That is what I want, and while, yes, that was an altogether different time and economic climate in MLB, I still think that that kind of success can be attained, or at least somewhat close to it, if management goes about it in the right way. They don’t have to spend $200 million per year to do that either. They do have to spend more than $100 million though, since most farm systems just are not going to churn out talent enough to sustain any long-term competitive staying power. THERE HAS TO BE A BLEND OF YOUTH AND EXPERIENCED VETERANS. This ownership just does not seem to be willing to buy into (literally) that concept.

          • As a lifelong fan since the 70’s, I certainly get where you’re coming from. It would be awesome to see Pirates draft, develop and keep players like Cutch, Walker, Cole, and others for the majority, if not entirety, of their career. Like the good old days. Unfortunately, those days are done and have been for a while.

            For me, it’s not so much money as it is risk aversion that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Management has shown hesitancy to a fault to make bold moves. This certainly cost team the division in 2015.

            Unfortunately I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Huntington isn’t likely to change his stripes.

            • Huntington has the guns, just can’t pull the trigger.

            • “For me, it’s not so much money as it is risk aversion that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Management has shown hesitancy to a fault to make bold moves. This certainly cost team the division in 2015.” To me, Scott, it all amounts to the same thing. Bottom line: Nutting is not willing to spend enough to give the team a TRULY LEGITIMATE shot at winning. That’s the problem I have with this whole situation.
              Certainly, the 70’s are long since gone, and the economics of MLB are vastly different now than back then. But, that said, the Pirates could still be competitive. They were from 2013-2015. Nutting just needs to spend another 15-20 million a year. By today’s standards, I really don’t think that that is too much to ask for.

      • We are not only looking up to the Cubs and Cardinals, but Brewers have some very good talent, by trade. Are the Red’s are a few pitchers away from passing the Buc’s. I agree, 1971, 100 million will not get you over the hump.

  • Tim,
    I really hope they trade Cole & Cutch and start to rebuild. The window is for just this year when we can rebuild for years.

    • I think that’s their best approach.

      • But, now or July?

      • If it’s “all in”, then why not Rivero? A rebuilding team wouldn’t need him. What do you think he would bring?

        • Rivero is the only player on my roster who is untradeable,
          but I am just an amateur at this.

        • Trade Cutch and Cole now, but wait until July deadline with Rivero, since the demand and therefore the reward should be higher. If not, then keep him and revisit next offseason to see if our “all in” season is 19 or 20.

        • I’ve been a proponent of shopping Rivero if we can get a deal similar to what the cubs gave up for Chapman or the Indians have up for miller. Elite closets are big assets for contenders but wasted on rebuilding teams. By the time we are good enough to compete Rivero will be too expensive for the Bucs.

        • If it is a potential one-year rebuild with a look to contend in 2019 or 2020, why would they trade Rivero? He likely isn’t going to bring back a massive haul because he isn’t Chapman and relievers can be inconsistent.

          • Not only that, but there are a lot of pretty good relievers available right now, and that would diminish the return. The deadline might be the best time to think about trading Rivero.

          • Here are the reasons to trade Rivero
            1. His value-minus-cost will never be higher.
            2. His lowest cost years will come on Pgh teams that don’t need an elite closer. By the time they need him in a few years, he will be controlled but will no longer be as cheap.
            3. The shelf life on relievers isn’t often only a few years. Let someone else hold the hot potato.

            Supplement to reason #1:
            Chapman got a huge haul including two top-100 names with only 2 months of control (@ $11M per ) remaining
            Miller got a huge haul including two top-100 names with 2.5 years of control at $9M per.

            There is no contending team out there who wouldn’t salivate over the chance to have Rivero for four cheap years. That’s what’s known as a selling opportunity.

          • Tell me what a one year rebuild looks like. Who to trade (and for whom); who to keep? Not being a wiseguy, interested in your thoughts. I can’t envision it.

          • he isn’t terribly unlike chapman

        • I wouldn’t trade Rivero, at least not now. I consider him, Bell and Tallion part of the next core. With Marte and Polanco, Meadows, Keller and Tucker possibly joining them. (Hopefully other young players) There’s a lot of value in having a closer on a young team. Shortens the game, instills confidence. I’d rather have an ACE, but nasty closer is next best thing on a pitching staff.

          • I agree. nothing like a young pitcher pitching a great game and not get the win because of a blown save. You can trade him after two years and still get a nice haul. Bucs do have a ton of pitchers that could end up in the bullpen, that’s how the got Miller and Watson. There are 12 pitchers that have to go to AAA and they all can’t be starters. I believe some trades are going to be made.