The New York Yankees haven’t been spending with reckless abandon in recent years, but Gerrit Cole could be an exception this winter.
George Steinbrenner’s sons have been far more frugal in recent years, led by principal owner Hank Steinbrenner. But according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has ownership approval to offer a record contract to free-agent right-hander Gerrit Cole. In their pursuit of an ace, including a meeting with Stephen Strasburg this week, the Yankees are prioritizing Cole.
During the elder Steinbrenner’s run as owner of the Yankees, doling out big contracts in free agency was a virtually annual thing. From Reggie Jackson to Dave Winfield to Jason Giambi to Alex Rodriguez, money was never an object if it meant bringing in a star.
The Los Angeles Angels and the Yankees are expected to be the top two players in a bidding war for Cole, with a total contract expected to stretch toward $250 million when it’s all said and done. David Price’s seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox in the 2015-16 offseason is the current record contract for a pitcher.
Cole had a fantastic 2019 season with the Houston Astros, going 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and a major league-leading 326 strikeouts (13.8 K/9) over 212.1 innings (33 starts). He also set MLB single-season records for strikeout rate (39.9 percent) and K-BB rate (34 percent).
The Yankees just completed a decade for the first time since the 1910s without a World Series title, having last won in 2009. If George Steinbrenner were alive and running the show a big contract would be ready for someone this offseason, and Cole would surely be a top target on that front. The Yankees seem committed to following that template and not being outbid. So unless Cole really wants to pitch closer to where he’s from in Southern California, the team he rooted for as a youth looks sure to be the team he cashes in with this offseason.