The Astros bid to repeat as World Series champions appeared to get a big boost on Wednesday. And then it didn't. The Astros reportedly acquired Pittsbugh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole for prospects. The deal was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network and confirmed by several other MLB sources.
However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo disputed the report. Several others joined him in shooting down the deal. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the best source of all, also disputed the report.
"We have talked to several teams about possible trades," Luhnow told Passan. "At this point, nothing is imminent."
He also told Mark Berman of Fox Sports that "We are talking to some free agents and some teams about possible deals. As of right now, nothing is close enough to become newsworthy."
Morosi never updated his tweets, but did write a story that backed off his assertion that the deal was agreed upon.
If the deal does get done, this is a great move for the Astros. The 27-year-old Cole had a down season last year, with a career-worst 4.26 ERA. But he is under team control for two more seasons and for his career he is 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA.
The move for Cole would open up all kinds of possibilities. A 1-2-3 of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Cole will match up with anyone. The depth would be stronger with Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers, Colin McHugh and potentially Brad Peacock behind them. It frees the Astros up to move Peacock to the bullpen full time, and perhaps even consider McCullers as a closer. It also provides insurance in case Keuchel bolts after next season.
Morosi pointed out on Twitter that Cole's arbitration filing deadline is Friday and the Astros wanted to have the deal done so that they could do it at their own number.
It would be a strong move that should only make the Astros better in 2018. With a full season of Verlander and the addition of Cole, the Astros are poised to make another magical run. If it gets done, of course.