After what seemed like a never-ending saga, the Pittsburgh Pirates have finally parted ways with right handed starter Gerrit Cole. The Houston Astros will be the team receiving Cole, and will be sending four players to Pittsburgh, right-hander Joe Musgrove, third baseman Colin Moran, right-hander Michael Feliz and outfielder Jason Martin.
Cole was reportedly destined for pinstripes in December and then was reportedly heading to Houston earlier this week, which was denied by both parties. In the end, Cole will in fact be joining the reigning World Champion Astros’ rotation.
Cole, 27, is coming off his worst major league season of his career. While he was by no means terrible, (12-12, 4.26 ERA, 196 strikeouts) Cole will look to re-discover in Houston what made him an ace for the Pirates just a few seasons ago. Cole’s biggest weakness in 2017 was the long ball as he allowed a whopping 31 of them after only allowing 36 total in the previous four seasons combined.
In the American League, adjustments will have to be made. Cole will slide into a rotation that features Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton.
Musgrove, 25, pitched in 38 games for the Astros in 2017, while making 15 starts. His career major league ERA of 4.52 is not eye-popping, but he was dominant in the minor leagues for the Astros across all levels. If the Pirates are able to transform him back into the pitcher that had a 1.88 and 2.74 ERA in 2015 and 2016, he could be a solid fourth or fifth starter.
Moran, 25, is the Astros’ fifth best prospect and is likely looked at as the third baseman of the future for the Pirates. Moran hit 18 home runs and drove in 65 runs while sporting a .301 average. He went 3-for-11 in minimal major league action. Moran was liked by the organization, but with their infield consisting of three perennial all-stars, there was room for him to be moved.
Feliz, 24, is another Astros’ pitcher who had solid minor league numbers, but was not able to translate them to the majors. Feliz has pitched in 98 games over the course of the past three seasons for the Astros and has accumulated a 5.13 ERA. The most attractive thing about Feliz is his strikeouts per nine innings, which was 13.13 in 2017. The stuff is there and it will now be his goal with his new team to keep the damage down. Feliz has starting experience in the minors, but will likely compete for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen come Spring Training.
Martin, 21, was an eighth-round draft pick by the Astros in 2013. In 2017, he slashed .287/.354/.494 with 58 extra base-hits. Martin was the Astros’ 15th best prospect and has the tools to be a future major league outfielder.
The Astros made a big splash to improve their already strong rotation, while the Pirates acquired a handful of players with a lot of potential, but not a lot of results. The Pirates’ haul is not the best on first glance, but if they are able to get the most out of the players they acquired, they could easily be the winners of this deal.
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