OK, Maybe Something is Finally Brewing? Astros Trade Talks on Gerrit Cole "Picking Up Steam" (UPDATES: "False Rumor" of Deal)

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OK, Maybe Something is Finally Brewing? Astros Trade Talks on Gerrit Cole “Picking Up Steam” (UPDATES: “False Rumor” of Deal)

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

In a sleepy market like this, we’ll take just about any transaction we can get, but the a division rival of the Cubs trading a cost-controlled, impactful starting pitcher to a team with whom the Cubs are competing on other starting pitcher free agents? That would be very significant.

In the report, Sanchez indicates that Cole – not Justin Verlander – was actually Houston’s top trade target this past summer. Although it’s not clear if a deal is imminent (naturally), Sanchez’s sources say the trade talks are “picking up steam.”

This is the second connection between the Pirates and Astros on Cole this week, with Jeff Passan – who had been all over the earlier Yankees-Cole rumors – reporting on Monday that the talks had begun. Among the reasons this is fairly consequential stuff:

  • If the Astros were to land Cole, that would probably take them out of the running on Yu Darvish and/or Jake Arrieta and/or Alex Cobb, and could shake loose that market generally, since those pitchers wouldn’t be waiting on the Astros anymore.
  • If the Yankees do not get (cost-controlled) Cole, they may not be able to be as aggressive in the free agent pitching market as the Astros could have been. (At least not until the Yankees shed more salary, since their avowed goal is to stay under the luxury tax cap, and they are currently at a spot where one big addition would give them no in-season leeway.) In other words, if you want the Cubs to get a top free agent arm, you want to see the Astros land Cole.
  • The move would probably precede other Pirates trades, too, which could reshape the NL Central landscape a bit for 2018.

It will be very interesting to see if the Yankees now get back into the picture, trying to up their offer to land Cole. Previously, the two sides were reportedly at an impasse over the inclusion/exclusion of top prospect (and former Cubs prospect) Gleyber Torres. The Pirates are going to get a great return for Cole either way, but all else equal, I’d just rather not see Torres ripping up the Cubs 19 times a year with the Pirates.

UPDATE: A little local confirmation of the talks out of Pittsburgh, plus the Astros’ own untouchable:

Whitley has been flying up the ranks, and might be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball at this point. The Astros’ position there is understandable.

UPDATE 2: LET’S GO, STOVE:

UPDATE 3: Hot Stove, engaged:

UPDATE 4: The obligatory caution:

It would be EXTREMELY “this offseason” for the deal to fall apart at this point, and everyone to retreat into their caves.

UPDATE 5: I would laugh if I weren’t crying:

UPDATE 6: You’ve gotta be freaking kidding me:

I know we joke about this offseason, but what the hell? You almost *never* see reports like those of Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal, with such certainty in them, being soon thereafter rejected by another respected writer as a “false rumor.” Clearly, something uniquely wonky has happened on this one.

You have to wonder if the Astros and Pirates got very close, and wires got crossed while the Pirates went back to the Yankees one last time …

For now, stand down, and resume your offseason sadness.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.