The New York Yankees also are in talks to acquire Cole, but a source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN that a deal is not close right now.
Monday, Astros owner Jim Crane acknowledged the team was "actively pursuing a high-end starter" and Cole is certainly available, with the rebuilding Pirates looking to move Cole, along with Andrew McCutchen and perhaps Josh Harrison. Passan did note that "generally, this sort of thing winds up with a deal being consummated".
Fire breaks out at Trump Tower in NY
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The Yankees were also rumored to be in on Cole, but ultimately came second in the sweepstakes for the 27-year-old.
Cole turned heads in 2015 when he made the All-Star Game and posted sparkling numbers. He was 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 203.0 inning pitched in 2017. He has a 3.50 ERA in 127 career starts.
Cole does not become a free agent until 2019.
When the Houston Astros won the World Series, people weren't just celebrating in Houston. But this is a clear suggestion that the Pirates are in rebuild mode.