Washington Nationals: Gerrit Cole on trade rumor radar


In need of a starter, the Washington Nationals are asking the Pittsburgh Pirates about Gerrit Cole. If  the demands match, this is a great idea.

The Washington Nationals hold an interest in Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.

Cole, 27, has two years of team control left and is in the Nats wheelhouse of stealth deals to fill in needed holes. He made $3.75 million in 2017 and projects to double his salary next year.

Last season, he went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA. Adjusted for league average, it translates to 101. Spot on National League average hurler. Over 203 innings, he allowed 199 hits, 55 walks and a whopping 31 home runs. But, his 1.251 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 rate are solid numbers. His 3.56 SO/W ratio is good.

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If the Pirates are thinking rebuild, Washington has the players to get Cole. Assuming Pittsburgh will move Andrew McCutchen, Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin spring to mind. (Not both together.)

A Cole trade comes straight out of the Mike Rizzo trade book. An undervalued player given a chance to perform on a higher stage. Unless this turns into the mess last year with McCutchen involving high prospects, there is a lot to like about this rumor.

Cole would give a solid boost to one of the best rotations in baseball. He fills in for Joe Ross this year and potentially Gio Gonzalez in 2019. Remember, the Chicago Cubs nabbed Tyler Chatwood from the Colorado Rockies in free agency. The race for quality arms is underway.

Cole carries a cheaper price tag than Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta have as free agents. The cost of players, however, will make Nats fans unhappy. On the upside, a move for Cole gives Erick Fedde and A. J. Cole one more year to develop without added pressure.

With the logjam of player movement braking—assuming the Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees deal goes through—the pace of trades and deals will speed up. Because the Cole rumor comes from Ken Rosenthal, this one has legs.

If you hear McCutchen’s name in rumors soon, watch out. The Pirates will not hesitate to do what they can to overhaul during next week’s Winter Meetings.

Given where Cole’s development is, he would slide in as a solid three pitcher from day one. He has ace qualities to his game, finishing fourth in the 2015 NL Cy Young voting with a 19-8 record and 2.60 ERA. The righty eats innings, clearing 200 both years he started over 30 games. There are tons of reasons to like.

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Assuming the prospects are off the table again, the cost will be players on the roster. Never easy, but you can never have too much pitching.