MLB trade rumors: Yankees target Gerrit Cole traded to Astros

The Yankees couldn’t catch a Cole.

After months — maybe years — of interest in the starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, the Yankees stood by as the Pirates agreed to trade the right-hander to the Astros on Saturday night, according to reports.

Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown first reported the news.

Houston will send Pittsburgh a trio of players: pitcher Joe Musgrove, infielder Colin Moran, pitcher Michael Feliz and outfielder Jason Martin.

The Astros, the reigning World Series champions, will add Cole to an already stacked rotation that features Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh.

How will Yankees fix 5 weaknesses?

Here’s what it could mean for the Yankees:

1) Obviously, a name comes off the board: The Yankees were long thought to be the favorites to land Cole, a 28-year-old with ace stuff and middlingly results. Now they’ll have to pivot if they want to add another starting pitcher. On Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman said in a radio interview that he’s been waffling as to whether the team needs to add another starter. “It’s something I wrestle with,” he said.

2) They might not need another top-flight starter: The Yankees will, at least, return the rotation that got them to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last year. It’s comprised of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery.

3) Other connections?: The Yankees have been connected to just about every acquirable pitcher this offseason. In the last few days, they’ve been connected to free agent Yu Darvish. Darvish has said that the Yankees are among the teams on his short list and that they have made him a contract offer. A source told NJ Advance Media, however, that the Yankees’ interest in Darvish didn’t seem to be more than “due diligence.” 

4) Other holes: Two other positions may be of greater priority for the Yankees, who don’t have a clear-cut choice at second base or third base. While Cashman has said he’s ready to go with young internal candidates, the Yankees are very clearly in a win-now mode and might not want to trust important spots to inexperienced players.

5) What was the Yankees’ offer?: The Pirates’ haul for Cole, who just two years ago put up Cy Young numbers, initially seems light. Musgrove, just 25 and won’t be a free agent until 2023, seems to have mid-rotation upside. Reports were that the Yankees would have been willing to include ex-top prospect Clint Frazier, a 23-year-old left fielder blocked Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, in a deal for Cole.

This sounds like it checks out. Andujar’s stock has only been rising since his strong year at Triple-A, and the Yankees have such a deep farm system that it’s possible they consider even those many think are secondary pieces to be higher-end talents.

Brendan Kuty may be reached at bkuty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.

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