Nearly a decade after drafting Gerrit Cole, only to watch him attend college, are the Yankees finally going to get their man?
According to a source, the Yankees have interest in Cole, but any momentum toward a deal with the Pirates may have been overstated Thursday night. Both teams are still talking, but nothing is imminent.
Video: Feinsand on why Pirates are looking to move Cole
The Yankees made Cole their first-round pick in the 2008 Draft, selecting him with the No. 28 overall pick. The Southern California native didn't sign, however, opting instead to attend UCLA. Three years later, the Pirates selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft.
Even after agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal with Carsten Sabathia last weekend, the Yankees appear intent on adding another starter to their rotation, preferably one with multiple years of club control.
Cole, 27, is arbitration-eligible for two more seasons before he's slated to become a free agent. He finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2015 after going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, though he's regressed a bit over the past two seasons. He was 7-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 21 starts during an injury-riddled 2016, then went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts this past season.
The Yankees are intent on keeping top prospect Gleyber Torres, who ranks as MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 overall prospect. Torres, 21, is expected to compete for an infield spot with New York this spring.
Instead, the Yankees are likely to build any package around Clint Frazier, the highly touted outfielder who was the central figure in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade with Cleveland. Third-base prospect Miguel Andujar is also an intriguing possibility as a potential Pittsburgh target.
Frazier hit .231 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games with the Yankees last season, and despite his enormous upside, the 23-year-old became expendable when the Yankees acquired reigning NL Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton earlier this month in a trade with the Marlins.
Acquiring Frazier would also reopen the possibility of the Pirates dealing former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, who has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the past two years.
The Pirates have toyed with both the idea of contending in 2018 or retooling for a run in '19 and beyond, though as of last week's Winter Meetings, general manager Neal Huntington wasn't prepared to commit to either approach.
"Our general mindset remains the same," Huntington said. "Our goal is to get this club back to the postseason as consistently and frequently as possible. Depending upon what we're able to do in this market, that goal may be '18, that goal may be '19. We'll see where we're able to go."
A move to Pittsburgh would reunite Frazier with a familiar face. The Pirates' No. 1 prospect, Austin Meadows, played for Frazier's rival high school in Loganville, Ga., and the pair was picked four selections apart in the 2013 Draft (Frazier was taken fifth by the Indians, and Meadows ninth by the Pirates).
The Yankees have also been rumored to have interest in D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin and Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, and they have even been loosely connected recently with free-agent right-hander Yu Darvish.