The Yankees are continuing to make an effort to acquire Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, sources told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Passan’s sources said the Yankees are “hopeful they can put together a package” that Pittsburgh will like and will not feature their No. 1 prospect Gleyber Torres, who is one of the top prospects in the game. Passan’s one source said that even if the Yankees don’t budge on giving up Torres, “there’s enough to work with that a deal seems likely.”
However, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports says that the Yankees and Pirates “remain apart” on a Cole deal. Heyman said the Yankees “have the pieces to make it work, but they have no plans to surrender” Torres, who is expected to take over second base this season. Heyman said the Yankees would prefer the package to “headline” outfield prospect Clint Frazier.
If the Yankees and Pirates do not come to an agreement, another one of Passan’s sources “expects another club team to step up and Cole to be moved within the week.” After all, the Pirates are “highly motivated” to trade Cole and start their rebuild this offseason.
Cole is coming off the worst season of his career, as the 27-year-old right-hander went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and allowed 31 home runs in 203 innings pitched across 33 starts. Despite Cole’s campaign, Passan says the Yankees want a “cost-controlled starter” to help boost their rotation depth while keeping them under the luxury-tax threshold. Cole is projected to make around $8 million in arbitration this season and is a free agent in 2020. If they add Cole, the Yankees would still remain under the $197 million threshold.
Adding Cole would also give the Yankees a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery and CC Sabathia. This staff would be strong enough to help the Yankees, who also added Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, get to the World Series after losing to the eventual champion Astros in seven games last year in the ALCS.
Heyman said in the past that the Yankees “have always loved him” since Cole was drafted 28th overall by them in 2008 when he was in high school. At that time, though, Heyman said “Cole’s father told them then that there was no offer that could keep him away from UCLA,” where he played three seasons before being selected No. 1 overall by Pittsburgh in the 2011 draft.
In his five years in the majors, Cole has gone 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 127 starts. Cole has also been an All-Star once, as he made it in 2015 — a year in which finished 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings.