The Houston Astros are reportedly nearing a deal for Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
This comes after Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Monday the Astros and Pirates had discussed a Cole trade that could include Houston outfielder Derek Fisher. However, Passan pointed out the Pirates would want either outfielder Kyle Tucker or pitcher Forrest Whitley in the hypothetical trade—the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in Houston's system, per MLB.com.
With Dallas Keuchel set to become a free agent after the 2018 season, Sanchez and Morosi's report noted Astros owner Jim Crane said he is targeting high-end starting pitching.
The story, which revealed Cole was the team's top trade target last year before it settled on Justin Verlander, also mentioned free agents Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta as pieces the Astros could add.
The 2015 version of Cole would fit the bill as a top-notch starter considering he was an All-Star with a 2.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings. His production slipped the next two seasons, as evidenced by his 1.44 WHIP in 2016 and 4.26 ERA in 2017, but he is still only 27 years old.
He would also provide the Astros, who will be looking to defend their World Series crown in 2018, a proven playoff starter considering he has a 3.94 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in three postseason appearances.
With Cole alongside Keuchel, Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros would have an excellent top four in their starting rotation.