Note to all American League contenders, pretenders, challengers, wannabe aspirers and would-be competitors and opposers: Jeff Luhnow and Jim Crane mean business. Serious business!
Of course, the caveat is that the message of a Cole acquisition is more of a message to Keuchel and Scott Boras than it is to the rest of the league. Acquiring Cole may only allow for a stronger negotiation with the long-time Astro or signal that the team has given up in its potential negotiations on a long-term deal.
Moreover, perhaps a bigger question: If Keuchel and Cole are both in the above aforementioned rotation, What. Just. Happened?! And what does it mean for Brad Peacock, Morton, Collin McHugh Francis Martes and others on the ever-so-growing Astros’ depth chart?
The biggest — and perhaps most telling — question however, could be what the Astros had to give up to add Cole.
Cole will not blow up the budget that is already sky-rocketing. He’s estimated to earn approximately $7.5 million in 2018 and will have one more arbitration year in 2019.
Here’s a quick status update for each pitcher in the rotation mix for 2018. With a rising payroll, it would seem imperative the Astros would want to hang onto as many under-team-control players as possible.
- Verlander. Signed through 2019, free agent in 2020.
- Keuchel. Final arbitration year in 2018. Could become free agent after this season.
- Morton. Final year of two-year deal. $7 million in 2018. Could become free agent after this season.
- McHugh. Under team control through 2019. Could become free agent in 2020.
- McCullers. Under team control through 2021. Could become free agent in 2022.
- Peacock. Under team control through 2020. Could become free agent in 2021.