The hot stove has been icier than the midwest this offseason, so it’s nice to have a real live transaction to discuss. And it’s a pretty interesting one too, with the Pirates trading perhaps the best starting pitcher available on the trade market to the World Series champion Astros.

At first glance, that’s a somewhat light return, even with the two other pieces Jon Heyman reports are coming:

It’s a fascinating package. Cole is coming off the second 200-inning year of his career, a season in which his peripherals were better than his ERA. That’s likely due to a spike in his HR/9 allowed; Cole still struck out almost a batter per inning, and he has two years of control remaining.

The Pirates and Cole just agreed to arbitration terms yesterday; the right-hander will make $6.75 million in 2018. It’s possible that was the final variable remaining before Houston was comfortable making the deal.

Musgrove and Moran are both interesting players, with major league experience, but they’re both already 25. Cole is just 27. It’s clearly not a deal made by a team going into a full-on rebuild, which makes sense on the surface, as the Pirates have talented players on the roster. It’s tough to just punt in that scenario. But Pittsburgh is also staring at a division with the Cubs, the Brewers, and the Cardinals, all teams with designs on contending. And a team without Gerrit Cole is pretty likely worse over the next two years. They probably have a plan, but it’s tough to see a path to contention.

Trading Cole made sense, but was this the best return they could manage for two years of a starting pitcher who seems to live in the solid-to-great range?

As for the Astros side of the deal, it’s hard to look at it as anything but a win. Squarely in a window of contention, Houston added two years of a cost-controlled frontline starting pitcher without subtracting any important pieces from their big league roster. That’s a dream scenario for any team, much less a team as stacked as Houston is already. Cole is so cheap it might not even impact their ability to add more; they were reported to be one of the finalists for Yu Darvish, for example.

Most of all, though, this trade might finally help to unstick the logjam of baseball activity that has been backed up for months now. Of course, that’s what we thought about the Shohei Ohtani signing, and the Giancarlo Stanton trade. So, maybe not!

But let’s hope so.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.