Sources: Pirates willing to consider offers for pitcher Gerrit Cole
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The most coveted pitcher available at the winter meetings is not Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.
It is Gerrit Cole.
According to industry sources, multiple teams have inquired about the right-hander, and the Pirates appear willing to consider offers.
Industry evaluators convinced the Pirates are prepared to move Gerrit Cole, if they can find the right match. Arguably best available starting pitcher in the market.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 12, 2017
The New York Yankees remain interested after being rebuffed Monday. The Pirates likely would want outfielder Clint Frazier, a 23-year-old slugger who made his big league debut last season, as part of a return package.
The Baltimore Orioles, who have plenty of minor league outfield depth, including top prospect Austin Hays, and Minnesota Twins also have asked about Cole. Other teams seeking a top-flight starting pitcher are the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Why is Cole such a hot property? The top overall pick in 2011, Cole is 27 years old and is just entering his prime years. He has made 127 starts in the majors, including three in the postseason, and posted a 59-42 record with a 3.50 ERA.
Cole can touch 100 mph with his fastball and averages 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He bounced back from an injury shortened 2016 season and led the National League with 33 starts this past season.
Best of all, Cole has two years of team control remaining. He is in his second year of arbitration eligibility and is projected to make $7.5 million — a bargain rate for a No. 1 or 2 starter.
To close a deal for Cole, the Pirates, who need to retool their roster after back-to-back losing seasons, probably will demand a package that includes at least two top 10-caliber prospects. However, they wouldn't necessarily require a major league-ready pitcher in return.
Jameson Taillon or Ivan Nova would anchor the front of the rotation with either Steven Brault or Tyler Glasnow moving into the No. 5 spot.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.