Pirates fielding offers for Gerrit Cole, not shopping him | TribLIVE.com
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Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the sixth inning against the Cardinals Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at PNC Park.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Pirates would get a far better return by trading Gerrit Cole than they would for dealing either Andrew McCutchen or Josh Harrison. Cole is younger, has two years of team control remaining and has plenty of upside potential.

Yet, Cole seems more likely to open the season with the Pirates than either McCutchen or Harrison.

On Monday, a team source said the Pirates have listened to offers for the veteran right-hander, but stressed the team is not aggressively shopping Cole this winter.

In his second year of salary arbitration eligibility, Cole, 27, is projected to make $7.5 million in 2018. He will become a free agent after the 2019 season.

The Pirates have not made an effort to sign Cole to a multiyear deal. His agent, Scott Boras, usually prefers for his clients to set their value on the open market.

Cole is the probable opening day starter and will lead a rotation that includes Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams. Chad Kuhl, Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault are candidates for the No. 5 spot.

As the first day of the MLB winter meetings wound down Monday, general manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates have enough depth to trade one of their starting pitchers.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is we would be comfortable with one or maybe even two of our young starters being in the bullpen to start the season because of the guys behind them,” Huntington said. “So, I guess a natural transition is that if we were to have an opportunity to utilize one of our young or veteran starters in a trade that made the organization better, that would make sense for us.”

John Heyman of FanRagSports.com reported the New York Yankees, who on Monday finalized their deal to add slugger Giancarlo Stanton, would like to add Cole to their rotation.

A major league source confirmed the Yankees’ interest to the Tribune-Review. The source also indicated the Pirates do not appear to be especially motivated to move Cole during the winter meetings.

The Yankees drafted Cole with the 28th overall pick in 2008, but he went to UCLA instead of signing with them.

This past season, Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and was tied for the National League lead with 33 starts. He also served up a career-worst 31 home runs, the second-highest total in the league.

If the Pirates quickly fall out of contention next season, Cole might be a candidate to be moved at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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