Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports dropped a couple huge tweets Thursday evening indicating the Yankees are working on a trade for Gerrit Cole, the deal is “a matter of when rather than if,” and that the Pirates are “highly motivated” to move the pitcher with two years of club control remaining.
Sources: The New York Yankees are working on a deal to acquire starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sides are talking, and while a final package has not come together, there is confidence. "A matter of when rather than if," one source said.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 22, 2017
The Yankees at this point are the likeliest destination for Gerrit Cole, but if that falls through, sources believe Pittsburgh is highly motivated to trade him. Likelihood Cole moves is very strong.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 22, 2017
Talks had seemed to stall, but now it appears they’re still going strong, the wording of Passan’s tweets even suggesting a move could come soon.
Of particular interest here is that even if the Pirates fail to reach an agreement with the Yankees, they’re apparently pursuing a trade themselves, and could push for a deal even if New York backs off. Until recently, most speculation came in the form of other teams inquiring or expressing interest in Cole, which was hardly surprising.
While Cole and Andrew McCutchen are different cases, the Pirates could be looking to avoid a situation like McCutchen’s when his value eroded in 2017 after nearly having been traded the previous offseason. It’s entirely possible the Pirates won’t get better offers for Cole than they have now, and that factor may be enough for them to pull the trigger, giving up some of the faint hope of one last run in 2018 in exchange for a more guaranteed, higher quality package for Cole.
UPDATE: Now, here’s Jon Heyman confirming what most would suspect, that the main sticking point is whether Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier would lead the package going to Pittsburgh, with the Pirates preferring Torres.
yankees have always loved gerrit cole, and maybe they work a deal eventually. but still hearing of one big holdup: pirates want gleyber to headline package, yanks want frazier to headline it.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 22, 2017
It’s worth noting that any return would involve several players, so it’s possible this isn’t a huge stumbling block, since the Pirates could prefer stronger secondary players in the deal. If anything, if it’s really just Torres/Frazier holding a deal up, that makes it all the more likely a trade eventually happens.
BT dubs, here’s Passan’s full story.