MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported Wednesday that the Pirates would trade Cole to Houston.
However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports says there is no deal in place yet and Ken Rosenthal wrote that a deal looks possible rather than close.
Cole, 27, has reportedly drawn interest from several clubs this off-season, including the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. The right-hander struggled in 2017 and was injured for parts of the prior year, but is particularly attractive because of his dominant stuff and the fact that he’s under team control for two more seasons.
Cole posted a 4.26 ERA and 4.08 FIP over 203 innings in 2017 with an 8.7 K/9 rate. His best season came in 2015 when he produced a 2.60 ERA across 208 innings, finishing fourth in National League Cy Young voting.
The Astros have been on the hunt for top-end starting pitching, owner Jim Crane told media at an event this week. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will be a free agent following the 2018 campaign, so the reigning World Series champs appear to be looking for some rotation protection. The team has also been linked to free agent starter Yu Darvish this off-season.