Remember Gerrit Cole? He’s been a central part of the Pirates team for several years now. In the minds of many Brewers fans, he’s also remembered as the pitcher who started a fight with the Brewers in a game three years ago. He’s been a polarizing figure with the Pirates in those years, but with the Pirates potentially looking at a rebuild, he’s also a valuable trade chip for them.
At the Winter Meetings today, the Brewers and Pirates met and talked about some possibilities between the two teams. A couple of names popped up, led by starting pitcher Gerrit Cole:
#Brewers talked to Pirates today. Pittsburgh is listening on Gerrit Cole but not sure they want to deal him. Doing it inside division might be tough to do. But #Brewers do like to think big. Interesting.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 12, 2017
2B Josh Harrison might be available from Pirates as well and #Brewers are open to doing something there, so might have checked in on him as well.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 12, 2017
Gerrit Cole made $3.75 million this year and has two years of arbitration remaining before free agency, so any team dealing for him would know they'd get two years from him at least.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 12, 2017
With the Brewers looking to fill some space in their starting rotation entering 2018, it’s not surprising that they would be kicking the tires on Gerrit Cole. Over his career, Cole has been a solid pitcher, posting a 3.50 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 8.44 K/9, and 2.34 BB/9. However, his numbers did see an increase, jumping to 4.26 ERA and 4.08 FIP in 2017. It’s possible this was not his own fault, though, as his velocity remained constant, and his K/9 and BB/9 both improved. The biggest problem was a spike in HR/9 (0.54 to 1.37), which could explain the jump in his ERA and FIP. Cole is entering his second year of arbitration, and would be under control for 2018 and 2019.
Meanwhile, the Brewers are also looking at second base help, and Josh Harrison could be a fit there. He has been solid at second over his career, putting up a .281/.321/.414 batting line with a 101 wRC+. On defense, he’s recorded a career 1.5 UZR/150 at second and 7.6 URC/150 at third, which would give the Brewers some extra help in the infield. He’s due to make $10 million in 2018, and has options available for 2019 and 2020 as well.
While the two teams are talking, a deal here would be harder to pull off. As in-division rivals, the price would be higher for the Brewers to acquire either of these players. It’s not impossible for a deal to come together, but any deal would likely be an overpay. Despite this, there’s no harm in talking right now, and if the right deal does come around, there’s nothing wrong with an in-division trade.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.