Yahoo Sports reported a trade between the Pirates and the Astros would have to include either outfielder Kyle Tucker, who is ranked as the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, or Forrest Whitley, who is ranked No. 36.
A trade of right-hander Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Houston was reportedly in place on Wednesday, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the deal isn't "imminent".
Jon Morosi also reported that a key factor in any Cole deal would be that his arbitration deal has not been finalized which would give control to either team or another suitor.More news: Sainsbury's lifts full-year profit guidance after record Christmas sales
Passan reports that Houston is dangling outfielder Derek Fisherin the talks, although he says the Pirates would want more, which makes sense. 1 and 2 prospects in Houston's system, per MLB.com. Keuchel, of course, becomes a free agent after the 2018 season, so Cole could help cushion the blow of him leaving, assuming he leaves.
The Astros would hope that Cole bounces back to his form from 2013-2016 when he had a 3.23 ERA over 579 1/3 innings of work. His best season came in 2015, when he posted a career-high 19 wins and career-low 2.60 ERA en route to his only all-star appearance. Cole completes a very strong rotation behind Justin Verlander and provides insurance should Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers struggle with injuries again next season.