HOUSTON -- The team with the deepest lineup in baseball may now lay claim to the deepest pitching rotation.
Less than a week after owner Jim Crane said the Astros were pursuing a high-end starter, the defending World Series-champion Astros reached a deal to acquire hard-throwing right-hander Gerrit Cole in a trade with the Pirates on Saturday. The Astros will send pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, infielder Colin MoranHouston's No. 5 prospect, and Minor League outfielder Jason Martin, Houston's No. 15 prospect, to the Pirates.
Cole, 27, was the Pirates' first-round Draft pick in 2011 (No. 1 overall) out of UCLA. An All-Star who won 19 games in 2015, Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts last year for the 75-win Pirates, allowing 55 walks and 31 homers while striking out 196 batters in 203 innings. He's 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in 127 big league starts.
He'll join a rotation that includes former Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlanderand Dallas Keuchel, All-Star Lance McCullers Jr. and World Series hero Charlie Morton. The Astros acquired Verlander on Aug. 31 last year and now have him and Cole under contract for two more seasons.
The addition of Cole means Brad Peacock, who had a breakout year in 2017, could be moved to the bullpen full time after splitting time in the rotation last year. Veteran Collin McHugh, who missed the first 3 1/2 months last season with an arm injury, could now be a trade candidate.
Cole on Friday reached a deal with the Pirates for a $6.75 million contract for 2018 to avoid salary arbitration.

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