The Yankees should avoid trading for Gerrit Cole of the Pirates
Recently there have been reports of a Yankees connection to the Pirates for a possible trade of right-handed starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
While no serious progress has been made, the Yankees have made it clear that adding starting pitching is now their offseason priority.
Gerrit Cole has been a Yankees target since before he was even in the big leagues. The Yanks attempted to draft him out of high school with their first round pick but he elected to go to college at UCLA instead.
Then last year, with the club still in need of a starting pitcher, the Yankees were once again rumored to be looking to trade for the 27-year-old. However, as I see, the Yankees should not go through with this trade, and here’s why.
Pitching costs prospects
We saw last summer that top of the line starting pitching costs top of the line prospects. The Yankees had to give up Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian to the A’s for Sonny Gray.
The Pirates will likely demand a similar to return for a shooter that can’t hit free agency until 2020. This, however, isn’t necessarily worth it for a pitcher of Cole’s status.
Even though young outfielder Clint Frazier has become expendable, the Pirates will likely also demand either Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.
Cole has a career 3.50 ERA. Much of this number is attributed to a career year in 2015 in which he pitched to a 2.60 ERA with 202 strikeouts over 32 games.
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However, after an injury-shortened season in 2016 and being affected by baseballs home run plague in 2017, he pitched to a 4.26 ERA ’17. That’s worse than either Sabathia or Jordan Montgomery. Furthermore, Cole has an already dangerous 1.4 HR/9 rate for his career, which is likely to increase the in the American League.
Pitchers get worse in the AL
It’s common for pitchers when transferring from the NL to the AL, for their ERA’s to increase. For example, Johnny Cueto was in the middle of a career year with the Reds in 2014. Then he was traded to the Royals where he pitched to a 4.76 ERA.
His HR/9 rate jumped from 0.8 in Cincinnati to 1.1 in Kansas City and his K/9 rate dropped from 8.3 to 6.2. This can be largely attributed to the DH in the AL, which gets rid of the usual free out that comes up once every nine at-bats. The smaller parks in the AL also don’t help the cause.
Who could the Yankees use
The Yankees need a pitcher who has proved himself in the AL and is a soft-contact arm — one who has become more and more successful in this three true outcomes age.
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For example, CC Sabathia has re-established himself as a soft contact pitcher with his 83.9 mph average exit velocity against, was the lowest in the AL. Not letting the ball get hit hard is a great way to limit the evermore present HR, especially in the bandbox known as Yankee Stadium.