It’s Official: Gerrit Cole to the Yankees
You guys! The Yankees just made a record breaking deal! Oh. Wait. That’s what they always do.
After weeks of speculation of just how much the Yankees were willing to shell out for
Gerrit Cole’s soul now-former Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole, we found out late Tuesday night that they’ve struck a nine year deal worth $324 million – with an opt out option after five years. This contract is the biggest for any pitcher, ever. The deal will also put Yankees payroll dangerously close to the third luxury tax threshold of $248 million(!!), and they may be looking to unload some of their ridiculously large payroll in the form of pitcher A.J. Happ – who they’ve reportedly been looking to trade over the past few weeks.
The deal comes as no surprise to anyone who remotely follows baseball. Cole grew up a Yankees fan, idolizing players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and has made no secret that he’d love to play in New York. Drafted number one over all in 2011 by the Pirates, he debuted in Pittsburgh in 2013 and spent five seasons there until being traded to the Astros. This past season, he had an AL leading 2.50 ERA, won 20 games, amassed a MLB leading 326 strikeouts, was selected to the All Star Game for the third time, and came in a very close second to Justin Verlander for the Cy Young Award. His career record so far is 94-52 with a 3.22 ERA.
Cole dominated the second half of the 2019 season, losing just once after May 22. That loss? It was in Game One of the World Series – which everyone assumed would be a lock for the dominant right handed pitcher. Up until then, he was absolutely lights out in the postseason. Cole struck out fifteen against the Rays in Game One of the ALDS, and ten in Game Five. He then destroyed his new team, the Yankees, in Game Three of the ALCS – giving up just four hits, striking out seven, and walking five in the 4-1 Astros win. He redeemed his Game One loss with a road win in Game Five of the World Series, giving up just three hits, two walks, one run, and striking out nine over seven innings.
With Cole, Zack Wheeler, and Stephen Strasburg out of the free agent market, eyes now turn to Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Dallas Keuchel as the next best things for teams looking for a starting pitcher. Teams won’t be likely to spend the $35/$36 million per year with long term deals that Strasburg and Cole got, but they could get near $20-$25 million/year for 3-5 years each – much like the 5 year/$118 million that Wheeler got from the Phillies. That’s still an insane amount of money, but for guys that may have already pitched past their prime, they might not go as quickly or for as much money – as was the case with Keuchel in 2019. Remember, he didn’t sign with Atlanta until June, and he was considered one of the better free agent pitchers on the market last year.
It will be interesting to see how the Winter Meetings wrap up on Thursday, and if any of the other big name pitchers end up with a home by then. It wouldn’t surprise me if at least one or two (particularly Ryu) sign with a team before then, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if at least one of these guys don’t sign a deal until closer to Spring Training.