1. Trade for Gerrit Cole
Recently, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reported that the Twins engaged in conversations about Pittsburgh Pirates starter Gerrit Cole in a trade. In reality, this would be a very wise move for a team that’s struggled to put together a solid starting rotation.
In Cole, the Twins would instantly improve their starting rotation as he’d likely slot in as the no. 1 or 2 starter on the team. In his five-year career with the Pirates, he’s been their ace for a majority of the time, so the ability is definitely there. While he struggled with consistency last season, he was coming off a season in which he was out for half the year with elbow and triceps injuries.
Even so, he was an innings eater with 203 innings pitched in 2017, the second time he’s gone over 200 innings in the last two seasons. Additionally, he showed great velocity on his pitches and seemingly got stronger over the course of the year. While he finished the season with a 12-12 record and 4.26 ERA, there’s no reason to believe he can’t put together better seasons moving forward. At only 27 years old, there’s still plenty left in his arm to build on a career 59-42 record and 3.50 ERA.
Compared to the starting pitchers on the free market, Cole feels like the safest bet considering there’s not much long-term risk. Specifically, the right-hander is under team control for another two seasons and won’t garner nearly as much money as the top starters on the free market. Not to mention, there’s an argument that Cole can be just as good as top free agent starters Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish. If true, Cole’s value is far beyond either player.
Ultimately, the Twins may be forced to trade away a top prospect such as Nick Gordon or Stephen Gonsalves, but that’s the price you have to pay for a potential ace. That being said, prospects are never a guarantee to succeed, so trading for a proven product in Cole isn’t exactly a bad deal at all. I mean, a trio of Ervin Santana, Jose Berríos and Cole sure sounds great, especially if Berríos continues to develop into a dominant starter.