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Astros acquire Gerrit Cole from Pirates

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The Pirates dealt right-hander Gerrit Cole to the Astros on Saturday, per announcements from both teams. They’ll receive Astros relievers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, infielder Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin in the deal.

Cole has been the source of considerable speculation this offseason as one of the few top-tier pitchers left on the trading block. A trade to the Astros was initially reported last Tuesday, but was later deemed a ‘false rumor’ by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The 27-year-old is coming off of a solid run with the Pirates in 2017, during which he went 12-12 in 33 starts with a 4.26 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 8.7 SO/9 in 203 innings.

With the trade, the Astros are now set to enter the 2018 season with a fearsome rotation of Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers. The Pirates, meanwhile, will add to their stock of right-handed relievers with Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove, the latter of whom earned 1.1 fWAR with a 4.77 ERA in 2017. They’ll also find a corner infield option in no. 5 prospect Colin Moran, who managed a .364/.417/.818 batting line in his sophomore tryout in the majors last year. The least polished of the group, outfield prospect Jason Martin made the jump to Double-A Corpus Christi in 2017 and ranked no. 15 in the Astros’ system as a speedy fourth outfielder who can hit for average.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.