Is Gerrit Cole getting traded to the Astros? It’s still possible, but does not appear as likely as it did on Wednesday morning.

Early in the day, multiple sources told MLB.com that Houston and Pittsburgh were close to a deal revolving around Cole, a 27-year-old right-hander who finished fourth in the 2015 National Cy Young voting. However, talks have stalled, and no trade has been finalized.

Is Gerrit Cole getting traded to the Astros? It’s still possible, but does not appear as likely as it did on Wednesday morning.

Early in the day, multiple sources told MLB.com that Houston and Pittsburgh were close to a deal revolving around Cole, a 27-year-old right-hander who finished fourth in the 2015 National Cy Young voting. However, talks have stalled, and no trade has been finalized.

“We do not have a deal. We are working on multiple things but nothing is imminent,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow wrote in a text to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart.

It’s not uncommon for major trades to hit a snag for any number of reasons before being officially consummated, and nothing prevents the two teams from reviving the discussion. In fact, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that while there is no deal now, “it could still happen.” MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman reported that at least one other team was actively pursuing Cole as recently as Tuesday night, and it is not the Yankees, one of the clubs Cole has been heavily linked to in trade rumors this offseason.

We do know that Houston is looking to acquire a starting pitcher of Cole’s caliber. Astros owner Jim Crane said when asked by MLB.com on Monday that the club is actively pursuing a high-end starting pitcher to add to an already formidable rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton.

According to a source, Cole was Houston’s top target last summer. When a deal could not be put together, the team opted for Verlander, who flourished down the stretch and in the postseason for the World Series champions.

Besides Cole, the Astros have also been linked this offseason to right-handers Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Chris Archer, among other hurlers.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, who was first to report the Astros’ negotiations with the Pirates about Cole, Houston left fielder Derek Fisher‘s name has come up in the discussions for Cole, whose contract includes two relatively affordable years of control. In exchange for Cole, Pittsburgh’s ace, the Pirates may also seek top talent from Houston’s farm system, such as outfielder Kyle Tucker (Houston’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and the game’s No. 8 overall prospect) and right-hander Forrest Whitley (Astros’ No. 2, No. 36 overall), though many in the industry believe Whitley is “untouchable.”

Whitley has seen his stock rise significantly over the past year, and some reports suggest he is “untouchable” in Houston’s eyes. A first-round pick in 2016 out of San Antonio’s Alamo Heights High School, Whitely struck out 143 batters in 92 1/3 innings across three levels in 2017, topping out at Double-A Corpus Christi. And in that a recent Poll of execs conducted by MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the 20-year-old right-hander got one vote as the best overall prospect in baseball and three votes as best pitching prospect in baseball.

A key wrinkle in the trade discussions is Cole’s arbitration status: His case remains unresolved for 2018 and the filing deadline is Friday. The Astros are therefore incentivized to finalize the trade before Friday so they can file at their number rather than inherit the Pirates’ figure.

“I’ve been told that on paper we have the best team in baseball, but paper doesn’t win titles,” Crane said while attending an event at Houston’s City Hall to open the club’s World Series trophy tour.

“I think with the depth of our farm system, where some of the guys are going to be blocked for some time, it might be prudent to make a move if we can get a deal done that makes sense.”

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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