Red Sox Trade Target: Right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 26: Gerrit Cole /

Should the Boston Red Sox explore a trade possibility for Gerrit Cole? Let’s look at some possible scenarios for this hot stove league fantasy trade.

The New York Yankees (remember them?) are in the market for pitching. The reported target – or at least one target – is Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Could the Boston Red Sox swoop in and acquire him first?

Cole is a 26-year-old right-hander who went 12-12 for Pittsburgh in 2017. The Pirates are after young and controllable and New York has both in abundance in their restocked farm system.

Reports have the Yankees offering a two-player package of Clint Frazier and Chance Adams. Frazier is a 23-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder who slashed .231/.268/.448 for the Yankees in 2017. Adams, also 23-years-old, is a quite promising pitching prospect after a two-team 15-5 record with a 2.45 ERA last season. Back to Cole.

The issue with Cole is he suddenly came down with a case of Rick Porcello home run disease, posting a 1.4 HR/9 with a career-high 4.26 ERA. Cole’s other metrics are more promising with a 2.4BB/9, 8.4 K/9, and 45.8 GB%. But those long balls? Was it the park?

PNC Park is considered pitcher friendly and for Cole, it was with 11 home runs allowed and 20 generously given up on the road. For a pitcher who is career stingy (0.6 HR/9) prior to 2017, it is most certainly a point of concern. Cole will also enter the free agent market in 2020 and any return to his All-Star 2015 season (19-8, 2.60) could be a hefty payroll hit.

From my perspective, I cannot see the Yankees willing to part with Adams, but Frazier is certainly expendable. Could Boston present any package comparable to New York’s? Does our barren farm system offer any pitching of note?

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Scanning MLB Prospect Watch, the Red Sox have one pitcher in the top 100 and that is lefty Jason Groome at 43rd. That is higher than Adams, who is pegged at 53rd, so Boston could conceivable match New York, but Groome is far less advanced than Chance. Boston also has several other arms in their top ten, but, like Groome, all are in the early stages of development.

The next piece is a player to match up with Frazier and that leaves one player of note – Sam Travis. Travis is on the cusp of being an MLB reality and his first taste of the Big Show did show a .263 average in 33 games. But the Pirates do have talented switch-hitting Josh Bell at first – a position best suited for Travis.

If the Red Sox finally and hopefully get J.D. Martinez just where do you play him? Martinez has – or at least via his agent – expressed an interest to remain in the field. Conversely, a name often mentioned for departing Boston is Jackie Bradley. Would an even for even trade – arm for bat – work for both teams?

The Pirates have had mentioned Andrew McCutchen the last few seasons as a possible trade candidate. Would such a move with Boston hasten a move of McCutchen? And for Boston the risk is obvious – is Cole’s 2017 season a sign of deterioration?

Next: What if the Red Sox don't make a splash in FA?

For the Pirates, I would see the Yankees option of Frazier and Chance – especially Chance – a more tempting possibility that either Bradley or a package of minor league talent, but it is all worth a call or two since I am not convinced the Red Sox rotation is that solid.