Revisiting the Pirates-Astros Gerrit Cole Trade That Absolutely Screwed the Yankees

Gerrit Cole
Former Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

During the 2018 offseason, the Houston Astros -- fresh off a World Series win the season prior -- sent a massive statement to the rest of the MLB when they acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Prior to the blockbuster deal, Cole was already considered a budding star. However, the Astros swooped in following his worst season as a pro. In 2017, Cole finished 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in a career-high 33 starts.

Now that Cole's tenure in Houston has come to an end, it's only fitting that take a stroll down memory lane and evaluate this trade from the perspectives of both clubs. And, for Astros fans, to relish in the fact this deal screwed over the New York Yankees after general manager Brian Cashman arguably (and reportedly) offered a better package to the Pirates in exchange for the right-hander.

Pirates-Astros Gerrit Cole Trade Details

  • Pirates Receive: hurlers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, outfielder Jason Martin, and third baseman Colin Moran.
  • Astros Receive: Gerrit Cole

In Cole's two seasons with the Astros, the club advanced as far as the ALCS. That included a World Series loss against the Washington Nationals in 2019. The three-time All-Star played a prominent role in that run of success. Better still, he announced his presence as one of the game's best pitchers.

Across 65 starts (412.2 innings) for Houston, Cole went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA, 602 strikeouts, and a 0.96 WHIP. That's as dominant of a stretch as you will ever see from a big league pitcher.

The Astros clearly reaped the benefits on this deal, but how did the Pirates make out?

Musgrove was undoubtedly the headliner in Pittsburgh's return package. For the most part, the 27-year-old right-hander has underwhelmed for the Pirates. The club reverted him back to starter and he's gone on to log a 17-21 record alongside a 4.28 ERA and 257 strikeouts in over 280 innings.

Feliz hasn't emerged as the world-beating bullpen contributor the Pirates envisioned him to be when they acquired him. However, the Dominican Republic native did bounce back from a miserable 2018 season with respectable production last year. Feliz managed a 3.99 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 58 appearances in 2019.

Martin has yet to pan out for Pittsburgh too. The former No. 15-ranked prospect in Houston's farm system has played in just 20 games for the Buccos, spending most of his time with Double- and Triple-A.

Finally, we have Moran, who has surprisingly notched the most playing time of the four players acquired for Cole. The 27-year-old infielder has emerged as an everyday starter for the club, and is fresh off a career year in 2019 in which he hit .277/.322/.429 with 13 home runs and 80 RBI.

Who Won the Pirates-Astros Gerrit Cole Trade?

Isn't it obvious? What should have marked a rebuild for Pittsburgh has resulted in anything but. Since Cole's departure, the Pirates have gone 151-172 with zero playoff berths. Houston, though the team has no championships to show for Cole's reign of dominance, clearly won this deal.

We say that despite how much winning the Astros did as a result of their sign-stealing scandal.