The Pittsburgh Pirates have put themselves in a position that must feel strange to them: they have almost too much pitching depth. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said on his weekly radio show a few weeks ago that it would be a “smart business move” to option Gerrit Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis to protect the pitching depth the Pirates have when A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez return from the disabled list. Cole is the only starting pitcher on the Pirates with options remaining, so any other starter demoted would need to clear waivers.
Another reason Cole could be optioned is to make sure he doesn’t gain Super Two status, which wouldn’t be good for the Pirates. If Cole reaches Super Two status, he will be much more expensive in a few years. To avoid Super Two, Cole would probably only have to go back to the minor leagues for a week or two, missing two or three starts.
If they want to make the claim that Cole isn’t one of the best five starters in a potential healthy Pirates starting five, that’s just a lie. I like Charlie Morton and Jeanmar Gomez, but they aren’t Cole. The fact is, the Pirates are actually contending for a National League Central division title and the 25 best players need to be on the roster. While I agree that optioning Cole would be a smart business move, I just can’t get on board with it. Let’s not worry about six or seven years from now; it’s time to take baseball seriously in Pittsburgh. The time to win is now. Do I think Cole should be optioned, even for just a few weeks? No.