Astros planning on World Series encore with acquisition of Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA while making a career-high 33 starts in 2017.

The Houston Astros, who won their first World Series in franchise history 10 weeks ago, positioned themselves for a repeat Saturday by trading for Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.

The Astros, who have been in heavy negotiations with the Pirates for weeks, were able to pull off the stunning deal without surrendering their top prized prospects, instead sending pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin to the Pirates.

The Astros suddenly have a monster starting rotation led by Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Cole, Lance McCullers Jr. And Charlie Morton. They also have Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock.

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    Can you say potential juggernaut?

    “This offseason mentality has been ‘Turn the page from last season and let’s get after it,”’ third baseman Alex Bregman said during the Astros’ caravan on Thursday. “Brand new year. Let’s find a way to bring another one back to this great city. ….

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    “I only have one goal, and that’s to win the World Series again and bring it back to Houston. And hopefully, bring a lot of these in the near future to this city and turn Houston into the next powerhouse in baseball.”.

    Well, they certainly are giving themselves every opportunity, landing Verlander at the Aug. 31 trade deadline to lead them past the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, and now Cole.

    And they were able to pull it off without touching prized prospects Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker.

    Cole, 27, who signed a one-year, $6.75 million contract on Friday to avoid arbitration, has two years left before he’s a free agent along with Verlander. It provides the Astros protection with Keuchel and Morton eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.

    Cole had the worst season of his career last year with 4.26 ERA, giving up a career-high 31 homers, but yet now is a workhorse with a career 3.50 ERA in 127 starts for the Pirates.

    The trade signals that the Pirates likely will be moving outfielder Andrew McCutchen next and possibly Josh Harrison.

    It also leaves one less potential team for marquee free agents Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, each who had been in talks with the Astros.

    Yet, for now, all that matters is the team that won 101 games last year, knocking off the New York Yankees in the ALCS and the Dodgers in the World Series, just got better.

    “We’ve got superstars on this team,” Astros catcher Brian McCann said on MLB-TV where he was in the Diamond Resorts Invitational golf tournament. “Our pitching staff, we’ve got great arms. We’ve got a complete team. We’re explosive.

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    “We’re looking to do what we did last year in 2018.”.

    See ya in October.

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