New York Yankees: Trade for Cole is likely an imminent move

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 19: Gerrit Cole
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 19: Gerrit Cole /

With the Pittsburg Pirates heading toward a rebuilding period, the Yankees are trying to steal their ace.

Gerrit Cole denied joining the New York Yankees in 2008, choosing to go to college at UCLA instead.

Now he may not have a choice.  Several sources noted that New York is dialing in on the Pirates’ ace to complete their already rotation.

As a result of the team’s moves from the offseason, Cole’s addition seems guaranteed at this point.

Pittsburgh requires a hefty package for the 2015 All-Star, as he is the team’s leader in several categories across the previous five seasons. Clint Frazier, who the Yankees traded for in 2016, is the critical name labeled in the trade package. 

With a glut of outfielders, including newcomers Giancarlo Stanton and Jabari Blash, Frazier may not have a spot on the big-league roster anymore. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Stanton and Brett Gardner are in the current outfield rotation. Jacoby Ellsbury is the backup since the team is trying to squeeze all it can out of him unless he gets dealt.

As of now, the team seems much more invested in its infield prospects as well. Hence, the club doesn’t need an outfielder, but rather a prodigious second and third baseman.

Frazier would light up Triple-A, much like he has in the past. And as the Pirates slowly disclose their willingness to rebuild, Frazier would be invaluable to them. Nevertheless, he would just be insurance in New York, only needed to replace an injured star.

The former highly-touted prospect is good. But Cole would be much more fitting for a team that wants to win now. Stanton increased the team’s World Series odds by a considerable amount.

Cole’s addition could make the Yankees the favorites to win it all.

His career numbers aren’t elite, but they are notable. He owns a 3.50 ERA with a relatively low walk rate and a standard strikeout rate. He still ranked in the top 40 in ERA and first on his team, even though 2017 was his worst campaign thus far. There wasn’t much competition in Pittsburg, but he was still above-average nonetheless.

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Cole is also a substantial upgrade over the three starting pitchers that left New York – C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Jaime Garcia. The 27-year-old would round out a young, yet supremely talented starting squad.

Yankees projected rotation if they acquire Cole (projected 2018 numbers via baseball reference):

Masahiro Tanaka: 29 years old, 12-8, 4.10 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

Luis Severino: 23 years old, 10-8, 3.65 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Sonny Gray: 28 years old, 9-10, 4.06 ERA, 1.275 WHIP

Jordan Montgomery: 24 years old, 8-7, 4.07 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Gerrit Cole: 27 years old, 11-10, 3.95 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

Those numbers seem pessimistic, as each player’s floor seems much more enticing than what is predicted. When are the predictions based on specific algorithms and computer lingo correct, anyway? Hardly ever.

With the exception of Montgomery, each starter’s career ERA sits around 3.50, which is promising. Overall, the Yankees would have one of the more competent, deep staffs in the league from its top to its back end. Of course, the Red Sox, Indians, and Astros all boast a similar advantage in that category as well.

Surrounded by a group of proficient peers, Cole won’t need to carry the team on his shoulders. He doesn’t have the resume of an ace pitcher, but he has the tools to become one.

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And if general manager Brian Cashman can seal the deal within the next few days, Cole could be the difference between a heartbreaking playoff defeat and the franchise’s 28th World Series title.