For the Pirates, trading away Cole could signal a large scale rebuilding effort.
Ken Rosenthal, a national baseball writer for The Athletic, also confirmed this report with a source of his own, saying that Cole was indeed traded to the Astros.
He went 12-12 over 33 starts and compiled a 4.26 ERA in 2017, a season after he missed serious time with elbow inflammation.
Cole had signed a one-year extension with Pittsburgh on Friday for $6.75 million.
This trade was made in exchange for right-handed pitcher Michael Feliz, infielder Colin Moran, right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove and outfield prospect Jason Martin.
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Musgrove started 15 games for Houston, then moved to the bullpen for the back half of last season.
Cole burst onto the scene in 2013, and proved to be a driving force on the team that finally broke the 20-year long losing streak.
Cole will join All-Stars Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander on a team that just won its first crown. Moran hit 18 home runs and drove in 65 runs while sporting a.301 average.
By adding Cole, the Astros make their already formidable rotation even mightier. And with the changes to free-agent compensation made in the current CBA, the best the Pirates would get for Cole when he inevitably walked after the '19 season would be a pair of draft picks. Young, cheap, and productive, Cole is the kind of player that contenders lust for. And just as it did to so many other pitchers last season, the home run spike hit him especially hard, as he allowed 31 round-trippers across 203 innings-1.4 per nine, or almost three times his '16 rate. Moran struggled in the minors until a repeat performance in Triple-A in 2017 and was passed by Alex Bregman as the team's third baseman of the future (actually, he's also been passed by J.D. Davis on the depth chart at third base).
The World Series champions boosted their rotation with another big arm, acquiring Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a five-player trade Saturday. David Freese is penciled as Pittsburgh's third baseman a year ago. Despite that, he had a 5.63 ERA in part because of subpar control. Feliz, a 25-year-old reliever, struck out 165 batters in 113 innings over the past two seasons.