During the Winter Meetings it was reported that the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates were discussing a Gerrit Cole trade. The rumors seem to be picking up more steam.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a relatively quiet week at this year’s Winter Meetings. Many expected rumors to be surrounding franchise player Andrew McCutchen. Instead, their top starting pitcher Gerrit Cole was reported to be the most popular name asked about. Teams like the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and even the Milwaukee Brewers expressed interest in the hard throwing right hander. However, the New York Yankees were said to be the team with the most interest. On the other end of it, the Pittsburgh Pirates view the Yankees as the best team to deal with. The Yankees have one of best, if not the best, farm systems in baseball, with many top prospects close to MLB ready. Meanwhile, they are also an American League club and wouldn’t compete with the Pirates for a division spot.
Well, according to New York Post writer George King, the trade talks are starting to become more involved. Martin claims that the talks are centered around the Yankees acquiring Gerrit Cole and sending top outfield prospect Clint Frazier back to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Technically, Frazier is not a prospect as he exceeded 130 at bats, but he is essentially entering his first full season at the Major League level. Meanwhile, Frazier could give the Buccos a more immediate replacement if they decide to deal McCutchen. Also, Frazier is expendable for the Yankees with their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. Here is what King wrote in his article, which can be found here:
"“According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Yankees and Pirates are discussing a deal that would bring right-hander Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh and possibly would include outfielder Clint Frazier leaving The Bronx.”"
King also notes that the Pittsburgh Pirates would want a young MLB ready arm in return. He brings up the Yankees top rated pitching prospect in Chance Adams as a logical fit. However, as I wrote a few days ago, Adams does not really represent the type of starter the Bucs would target. He throws a relatively flat fastball, is under-sized for a right hander, and simply projects better as a reliever going forward. If the Bucs wants a starter, they may need to pass on the highly rated Adams.
Other notable starting pitching prospects in the New York Yankees’ system are Justus Sheffield, Domingo Acevedo, and Albert Abreu. Sheffield seems to be the most likely to stick as a starter of the three. However, he likely has the lowest ceiling of the three. Essentially one of these three would replace Cole in the rotation as soon as this season.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates looking up at the Cubs, Cardinals, and likely the Brewers in the division, a trade of Cole could help get this team back in contention down the line. Although the Pirates are not in dire need of adding another outfielder like Frazier, he is likely the most valuable piece that is available from the Yankees. Acquiring Frazier will allow the Bucs to let Austin Meadows try to perform at the Triple-A level this season. Meanwhile, if they can grab a high end pitching prospect, they will be able to give that pitcher a year to develop and put the Bucs back into true competition for the National League Central in 2019.