It's never easy trading one of your biggest stars.
The face value. The fan recognition. The name on the back of every other jersey that has walked into your stadium for the last few seasons.
When you trade a fan favorite, you better get it right or risk hearing about it for the rest of your career. For Pirates GM Neal Huntington, the risk of being forever mocked by your own fanbase is all too real if his Gerrit Cole trade to the Astros does not go as planned.
sources: pirates will get 4 back in gerrit cole, tho musgrove and moran are expected to be the main pieces— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 13, 2018
And that may be a real possibility, given that of the four prospects going to the Pirates (pitchers Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran, and outfielder Jason Martin) only Moran is ranked within the Astros' top-five prospects according to John Sickels.
Selling low is one thing, but it's another when it's with a player as big to the team as Cole. He helped the team rise up from obscurity after debuting in 2013, contributing to the Pirates' first season above the .500 mark since 1992.
It also doesn't help that he had two more years of team control left, which could have been spent helping the Pirates once again rise up from mediocrity.
But the thing about baseball is that nothing is given. Cole might blow out his UCL during his first pitch with the Astros and all four minor leaguers could become All Stars. Cole could very well be the AL Cy Young Award winner next season and all four could be out of baseball in five years.
Whatever the case is, what is certain is that it all rests on Neal Huntington's shoulders.