The Pirates probably won't sign Gerrit Cole to a long-term deal this winter, Rob Biertempfel writes.
Biertempfel's sources tell him Cole isn't likely to agree to a deal that would buy out seasons beyond 2019, when Cole is eligible for free agency. That isn't surprising, given that Cole's agent, Scott Boras, has repeatedly said he isn't a fan of those kinds of deals.
Biertempfel suggests Cole and Boras might accept a three-year deal to take Cole through his arbitration seasons, but that the Pirates aren't interested in that. Again, that makes sense -- the Bucs already control those years anyway, so unless Cole is willing to sign for a discount (again, unlikely, because Boras), the Pirates would only be absorbing extra risk by signing him for three guaranteed years. For a deal with a pitcher, that would be a dicey proposition in any case, but especially for Cole, who's coming off an injury-riddled year and finished the season on the DL with elbow trouble.
Given Cole's recent health trouble, simply going year-to-year with him is probably the Pirates' best path forward right now anyway. If he proves he's healthy, perhaps the two sides can revisit this topic in June, although a long-term deal probably isn't ever going to be likely as long as Boras is Cole's agent.