LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Agent Scott Boras, who represents Gerrit Cole, said Wednesday morning that he has seen "no evidence" that the Pirates are seriously considering trading their Opening Day starter this offseason.Various reports have listed the Yankees, Twins and Orioles among Cole's suitors, though the Pirates would set
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Agent Scott Boras, who represents Gerrit Cole, said Wednesday morning that he has seen "no evidence" that the Pirates are seriously considering trading their Opening Day starter this offseason.
Various reports have listed the Yankees, Twins and Orioles among Cole's suitors, though the Pirates would set a high asking price that prioritizes young, controllable talent in return for Cole. The Yankees would appear to be the best fit for Cole given their surplus of prospects, need for a starter and previous interest in the right-hander, who they drafted in 2008.
Pittsburgh is known to at least listen to offers for every player nearing free agency, and Cole falls into that category. The right-hander is under club control for two more years and projected to earn $7.5 million through arbitration next season, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.
"Whenever you're a great player in Pittsburgh and you've got four years [of] service [time], people start talking about luggage. That's just part of what the Pirates do and have done," Boras said. "As far as I know, I think Gerrit's going to be a principal part of their plan for 2018."
Even if Cole is traded, it may not happen before the Pirates leave the Winter Meetings on Thursday. On the final day of last year's Meetings, general manager Neal Huntington all but officially put an end to the Andrew McCutchen trade rumors by saying it was unlikely he'd be dealt. He made no such guarantee when given the opportunity on Wednesday afternoon.
"I don't want to handicap any 'yes move' or 'no move' as we leave this [media briefing] session, let alone tomorrow leaving the Winter Meetings or heading into pre-holiday time," Huntington said.
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While the Pirates sit in neutral, discussing moves but not making any, their National League Central competition is stomping on the gas pedal.
The Cubs have acquired starter Tyler Chatwood and reliever Brandon Morrow in addition to rehabbing starter Drew Smyly over the last two weeks. The Cardinals have agreed to sign right-hander Luke Gregerson and acquire Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna after previously signing righty Miles Mikolas.
Huntington said their division rivals' aggressive moves won't affect their offseason plan, however.
"Ultimately, we're going to look internally. How do we feel we will compete?" Huntington said. "Who are the players we feel have a chance to exceed [projections]? Who are the players who have a chance to bounce back? And where do we feel that puts us within our division? But most importantly, we always have to take care of our business."
The Winter Meetings officially end Thursday following the Rule 5 Draft. The Pirates have the 10th pick and two open spots on their 40-man roster, so they could be active.
"There are players that we've talked about. We obviously have the spots," Huntington said. "Part of it will be who's there when we pick. If there's a player that we like available, I would anticipate that we will select one."
The Pirates typically target two types of players in the Rule 5 Draft: high-ceiling prospects who they could carry on their roster all season, or low-risk/moderate-reward players who fill a need. On Thursday, they could find a fourth outfielder or lefty reliever among the class of Rule 5 Draft-eligible prospects.
"We're looking at players on both of those fronts, players with some ceiling and players that could just come in and play a nice role for us," Huntington said.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.