That club had already swapped the once-untouchable Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants already this off season, so I was thinking the Houston Astros were the next team to take something from the Rays until I saw this series of tweets from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 196/55 in 203 innings across 33 starts for the Pirates in 2017.
At this point, the hold up for any team trying to trade for Cole is the Pirates reportedly wanting three top prospects in a deal.
It was not immediately clear who the Astros will trade for Cole. Cole actually hasn't been a high-end starter except for in one season of his career, in 2015 when he threw 208 innings with a 2.60 ERA: in the last two seasons, Cole has produced a 103 ERA+ - just above league-average - and thrown 319 innings. Since his All-Star appearance in 2015, Gerrit Cole has been declining.
Whether it's Dallas Keuchel, Verlander, and Cole or Keuchel, Verlander, and Darvish at the top of the Astros' rotation in 2018, they're going to have a formidable group. If one gets dealt, they both get dealt in my opinion.
Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole delivers a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on September 23, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.