Gerrit Cole declines Astros’ qualifying offer, becomes free agent

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. (Matt Slocum/AP)

American League Cy Young runner-up Gerrit Cole has declined the Houston Astros‘ qualifying offer, the team announced Thursday.

The decision officially makes Cole a free agent, and if he signs with another team before the 2020 draft the Astros will receive a compensation draft pick following Competitive Balance Round B.

A former first-round pick with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 29-year-old received 13 votes for AL Cy Young, finishing second to teammate Justin Verlander.

Cole is arguably the top starter in the market, as he finished the 2019 season with a league-leading 236 strikeouts and 2.50 ERA in 212.1 innings pitched.

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