The Yankees have spoken to the Pirates about trading for righthander Gerrit Cole and plan to keep talking, but no deal was imminent as of Friday, according to a source.
The Yankees and Pirates have a long history of making trades, and the sides would seem to have the right ingredients for an eventual deal. The Pirates want salary relief (Cole made $3.75 million last season and could double that in arbitration); the Yankees have prospects to spare.
One report said the holdup was the Pirates’ desire to have the package centered around top Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres. Given that general manager Brian Cashman already has traded his second baseman (Starlin Castro) and third baseman (Chase Headley) this offseason, it seems unlikely that he would part with the multi-talented Torres.
The Yankees would much prefer to include outfielder Clint Frazier, who has no role with Giancarlo Stanton in the fold, in a deal for Cole.
The devil is in the details, and baseball people would not be surprised if the Yankees and Pirates eventually reach common ground on a trade. The Yankees could seek to expand the deal to include infielder/outfielder Josh Harrison, an All-Star last season who could play second or third.
Cole, who went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 203 innings in 2017, was the Yankees’ first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2008 draft. He spurned the Yankees and went to UCLA before becoming the No. 1 overall pick by Pittsburgh in 2011.
Cole, 27, is 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in his five-year career. His best season was 2015, when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
The Yankees already have five starting pitchers in Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery.
In recent years, Cashman and Pirates counterpart Neal Huntington have completed deals involving Francisco Cervelli, A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.