Despite being the reigning Major League Baseball champion, the Houston Astros recognize their window and are planning to do what they need to in order to remain on top.
On Monday, Astros owner Jim Crane said the team is actively pursuing a high-end starting pitcher.
“We don’t have anything done yet, and it may not come to be, but we are constantly looking to improve the team,” he said. “It would have to be a significant upgrade. We’re happy where we are at. I’ve been told we have the best team in baseball on paper, but paper doesn’t win titles.”
Following this, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that Houston has engaged with the Pittsburgh Pirates about a deal involving right-hander Gerrit Cole. Outfielder Derek Fisher is seen as a piece that could be shipped off to Pittsburgh in a trade, but Passan opines that Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley would likely be the centerpiece.
Cole, 27, is coming off arguably the worst season of his career in which he posted a 4.26 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.25 WHIP and had a 1.4 HR/9. Though he did prove his health while making 33 starts and throwing 203 innings.
He is arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason and is under team control for three seasons.
The New York Yankees had been rumored to be interested in acquiring Cole this offseason, but talks have since tapered off.
Passan also adds that with Dallas Keuchel set to hit free agency at the end of this upcoming season, bringing in an upper echelon starter makes sense. Other than Cole, he says the Astros could turn to the open market instead and may pursue Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.