Will the Yankees outbid the Houston Astros for Pirates ace Gerrit Cole?

by Joe Giglio

If the early-season standings are any indication, last weekend’sYankees vs. Astros series could be a preview of an October playoff tilt.

Right now, the Astros own baseball’s best record and look like the strongest team in the American League. If the Yankees are going to do enough to qualify for the playoffs and put together a contender capable of knocking off Houston, reinforcements are likely needed.

That could come in the form of Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole–assuming the Astros don’t outbid New York between now and the trade deadline.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Cole–along with left-handed reliever Tony Watson–is on the Astros’ radar already.

The Pirates, currently in last place in the NL Central at 16-23, have two pitchers who intrigue the Astros, sources say – right-hander Gerrit Cole, who is under control through 2019, and left-handed closer Tony Watson, who is a free agent at the end of the season.

It is not yet clear if the Pirates will be sellers, or if they would be willing to move Cole. But with center fielder Andrew McCutchen batting only .206 with a .670 OPS, a trade of Cole might be the Pirates’ best chance of landing significant value in a season that looks increasingly lost.

If Houston adds Cole (3.06 ERA) to a rotation that already includes Dallas Keuchel (1.84 ERA), Lance McCullers (2.65 ERA) and Charlie Morton (3.97 ERA), the title of AL favorite would automatically shift.

If a bidding war commences, the Yankees farm system could have enough to outbid the Astros–assuming general manager Brian Cashmanwants to go for it this season.