Astros land Pirates RHP Cole in 5-player deal


The World Series champion Houston Astros have acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole in a five-player deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In exchange, the Pirates receive right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove, third baseman Colin Moran, right-handed reliever Michael Feliz and outfielder Jason Martin.

“Trading Gerrit Cole was not an easy decision. We are very appreciative for what Gerrit has done for our team and organization, especially his important role on the 2013-15 playoff teams,” Pirates general manger Neal Huntington said in a news release. “Acquiring these four quality young players, three of whom we project to be an important part of our 2018 team, with many years of potential contribution, is an important step for us as we work toward bringing playoff baseball back to our fans.”

Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and 196-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio while making a career-high 33 starts in 2017. The Pirates and their top starting pitcher had avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $6.75 million.

The 27-year-old has one year of arbitration remaining and could command a hefty salary bump in 2019, one of the reasons the Pirates had explored trading him in recent weeks.

Cole finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting in 2015 and made the All-Star team, but has been much less effective in his other four seasons. He put up career lows in several categories last season, including ERA, home run rate and FIP.

The Astros are adding Cole to a rotation that ranked sixth in the majors last season in ERA, WHIP, strikeout percentage and opponent batting average, according to ESPN Stats & Information. While Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr. and Brad Peacock all had varying degrees of success last season, the Astros could use a consistent third starter behind Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander.

Some Astros appeared elated with the team’s latest acquisition, tweeting:

Musgrove started 15 games for the Astros in 2017, posting a 4.77 ERA. He made seven relief appearances in the postseason and earned the win in Game 5 of the World Series after throwing one scoreless inning.

“Joe Musgrove fits the mold of most successful major league starting pitchers,” said Huntington. “He is physical, athletic, has a multiple pitch arsenal and aptitude to attack major league hitters.”

The sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft, Moran went 4-for-11 with a triple, home run and three RBIs in seven games for the Astros in 2017. He hit .308 with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs in 79 games with Triple-A Fresno.

According to Huntington, the left-handed-hitting Moran made an adjustment to his swing and approach last season, leading to “increased power production that should play very well at the major league level, especially at PNC Park.”

Feliz, 24, went 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 46 relief appearances for Houston in 2017.

Martin, a left-handed hitting outfield prospect, played in 125 games between High-A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi. He hit a combined .278 with 18 home runs, 66 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

“[Martin] has been a productive hitter throughout his minor league career with the ability to get on base and hit for extra bases,” said Huntington. “He also utilizes his speed well on defense. We are pleased to add him to our system.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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