April 23, 2018

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14 January 2018, 08:19 | Joan Schultz

Pirates deal Gerrit Cole to Astros for four players, including pitcher Joe Musgrove

Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers against the

The World Series champion Astros add Cole, the former 19-game victor, to a rotation already armed with Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton. Cole, Ivan Nova, David Freese and Francisco Cervelli are under team control through 2019. No seriously, this time we mean it. Saturday afternoon, the Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates would strike a deal to send Cole to the defending champions. The Pirates begin their rebuild after missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons, a strategy that might also lead them to trade longtime outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, among others.

Cole will join All-Stars Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander on a team that just won its first crown. He made seven appearances in relief in the postseason and picked up the win in Game 5 of the World Series after throwing one scoreless inning.

Cole, now 27, had a down year in 2017 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts, but he struck out 196 batters in 203 innings. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft was an All-Star in 2015 but hasn't replicated those results the past two seasons.

"We don't focus too much on short-term performance", Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters after the trade was announced. He was highly sought out this winter by multiple teams - most notably the New York Yankees.

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The 2015 campaign was far and away the best for Cole, who went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 2.66 FIP and 4.5 WAR, while striking out 202 hitters against 44 walks over a grand total of 32 starts.

"This move gives us a better chance over the next two years to repeat and hopefully get another championship", Luhnow said.

On Friday, Cole and the Pirates agreed to a one-year contract worth $6.75 million to avoid arbitration.

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