Depending on how you decipher the back of Gerrit Cole’s baseball cards, the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander could be called a young arm or a good pitcher who has followed his one great season with steady regression.
There’s no doubting that Cole is a big power arm as a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder with a four-seam fastball that can hit three digits.
And there’s no denying that Cole is capable of being a No. 1 starter, as he was 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 208 innings in leading the Pirates to the playoffs in 2015, his one All-Star season.
Now with Cole two years away from free agency and the small-market Pirates ownership knowing that a breakup is inevitable, trade rumors are heating up.
The Yankees, even after re-signing free agent left-hander CC Sabathia and with no openings in their rotation, are interested in adding a top-of-the-rotation as long as they can keep their 2018 payroll under next season’s $197 million luxury tax threshold. GM Brian Cashman won’t be able to stay under $197 million by signing Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish – the top available free agents – but this mission still can be accomplished if the club trades for the arbitration-eligible Cole, whose salary is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to jump from $3.75 million in 2017 to $7.5 million in 2018.
As expected, the Pirates want a big return if they trade Cole. Reports have Pittsburgh asking for shortstop Gleyber Torres, MLB Pipeline’s top prospect in baseball, and/or touted outfield prospect Estevan Florial.
The speculation is the Pirates probably would settle for outfielder prospect Clint Frazier, who has some great moments as a first-time big-leaguer in the second half of 2017, and a highly regarded pitching prospect such as Chance Adams, who put up great numbers pitching in Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Let’s assume that the Yankees can get Cole for Frazier and Adams.
Should Cashman pull the trigger?
Here are the pros and cons: