The Astros, owners of the best record in baseball, are reportedly ‘very interested’ in making a move for the right hander, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Adding Cole would immediately place the Astros as the favorites in the American League, if they aren’t already. A one-two punch of Cole and Dallas Keuchel in the starting rotation would be lethal in a short series, and the Astros’ potent lineup would provide Cole with plenty of run support, which is currently lacking for him in the Steel City.
With the Pirates sitting in last place in the NL Central, the time may be coming for them to pull the trigger and deal for prospects, which the Astros have at their disposal. Houston has three top-50 prospects in baseball according to MLB.com, including pitchers Francis Martes and David Paulino.
Given how Andrew McCutchen is not showing signs of breaking out any time soon (currently batting .215), Cole might be one of Pittsburgh’s top trade chips should they decide to be sellers come July, or even earlier. Meanwhile, the Astros already look like a legitimate threat to win the American League this season, and adding Cole would make them a lot more dangerous.
Houston is also looking to add a left-handed reliever, according to reports, and could be interested in Pirates southpaw Tony Watson.
The Yankees may also make a run for Cole, which could drive up his asking price. Cole currently boasts a 2.84 ERA in nine starts this season, with 50 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.