The Astros and Pirates swung a major trade yesterday, with the World Series champions acquiring Gerrit Cole in exchange for a package of four players (Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, Jason Martin). We’ve already published one batch of reactions to the deal, and now here are some additional details about the trade talks and further analysis about what this deal means for Houston, Pittsburgh, and other clubs…
- The Astros were able to land Cole without giving up any of their top prospects, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Houston wasn’t willing to offer Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher, or Yordan Alvarez. Musgrove and Moran were seen as the top two pieces of the trade by the Pirates, and they pulled the trigger on the deal since Pittsburgh felt no other team was offering two top prospects of better quality in exchange for Cole. Musgrove, Feliz, and Moran give the Bucs 15 years of controllable talent, which was also a factor in their decision.
- Also from Crasnick, the Yankees were willing to include one of Clint Frazier or Chance Adams in a potential Cole trade, but not both. New York was also intent on holding onto its top minor leaguers, as Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Justus Sheffield, and Estevan Florial were considered off-limits in trade talks.
- The Yankees’ unwillingness to move its best prospects could be due to a belief that Yu Darvish could be signed for a “reasonable” price, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. This could be a contract in the range of five years and $80MM-90MM, which would represent a stunning discount from the six-year, $160MM deal MLBTR predicted for Darvish at the start of the offseason. Even with the unprecedentedly slow nature of this winter’s free agent market, it’s hard to believe Darvish would settle for such a relatively small deal, especially with at least five other teams known to be vying for his services. Harper also notes that even a five-year/$80MM pact would put the Yankees over the luxury tax limit, unless they were to move another big contract to create payroll space.
- The Pirates’ return was “more one of quantity than of impact,” ESPN.com’s Keith Law writes, though Cole may only be “a soft upgrade” for the Astros rotation if he replicates his 2017 numbers. Law feels that Cole’s 2016-17 performance curtailed some of his trade value, and while Houston is obviously hoping that Cole returns to his 2015 form, the trade also could’ve been a way of keeping him away from a chief AL rival like the Yankees.