On Saturday - a day after Cole agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.75 million - the Pirates agreed to trade the right-hander to the World Series champion Astros for four players, including pitcher Joe Musgrove and infielder Colin Moran, according to multiple reports.
Despite making a career-high 33 starts in 2017, Cole posted his worst ERA (4.26), worst home run rate (1.4 per nine innings) and second-most hits allowed per nine innings (8.8).
Moran, 25, is a natural third baseman who also can play first base and shortstop.
Brian Cashman wanted Gerrit Cole only at his price
Musgrove started 15 games for the Astros in 2017, posting a 4.77 ERA. He hit.308 with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs in 79 games with Triple-A Fresno. Martin was originally an eighth-round pick by the Astros in the 2013 draft.
The right-hander has two more seasons before qualifying for free agency.
This is a win for the Astros and for Cole and a clear sign the Pirates are beginning to rebuild.
Injuries checked Cole to 21 starts in 2016, but he rebounded a year ago and was one of just 15 pitchers in the majors to work 200-plus innings.
He joins a rotation fronted by former Cy Young Award winners Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. He has a 4.52 career ERA in 171.1 innings.