The Pittsburgh Pirates are discussing a deal that would send ace Gerrit Cole to the Yankees. Dealing Cole would signal that Pirates are starting a rebuild. Should the Milwaukee Brewers come calling on their other veterans if the Buccos start selling?
While a deal isn’t imminent, there is a lot of smoke surrounding Gerrit Cole. The most serious suitor appears to be the New York Yankees, but it’s thought that other teams are also calling. If the Pirates find a match for Cole, they would need to flip other veterans and jump start their rebuild with prospects and salary relief.
Deals within the division are rare, but not unheard of, especially if a team is in ‘sell now’ mode. The Milwaukee Brewers are loaded with talent throughout their Minor League system to further entice the Pittsburgh Pirates to sell within the NL Central.
Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Josh Harrison is the most likely trade target for the Milwaukee Brewers. He adds versatility, a capable bat and could conceivably bat lead off against lefties. He posted a .375 OBP vs. left-handers in 2017.
He’s under contract for the 2018 season, and has a pair of option years built into his current deal with reasonable buyouts. His contract wouldn’t deter Brewers GM David Stearns from pulling the trigger.
The Milwaukee Brewers would be among the first teams calling on Harrison if the Pirates get serious about rebuilding.
The starting rotation
Outside of Cole, the Pirates are unlikely to make a starting pitcher that would interest the Milwaukee Brewers. The one name that makes sense as a trade candidate is Ivan Nova, and he doesn’t move the needle for the Brew Crew.
Now-closer Felipe Rivero was dominant in 2017. He posted a 1.67 ERA in 75 1/3 innings of work. He struck out 88, walked only 20, and was tagged for only four homers. He’s under team control for a few more seasons, and would cost an arm, a leg, and a top prospect or two. There’s no way the Milwaukee Brewers meet the asking price here.
The idea of the Milwaukee Brewers dealing for Andrew McCutchen or Gregory Polanco sounds like a trade out of a video game. The Brew Crew already has too few at bats to go around for too many players in the outfield. It’s unlikely the Brewers and Pirates match up on a deal for an outfielder.
Harrison makes a lot of sense for the Milwaukee Brewers. The prospects and salary relief that would head back to Pittsburgh also make sense. If the Pirates get serious about rebuilding, there could be a new second baseman starting the season in Milwaukee.