World Series: Yankees expected to speak with free agent Gerrit Cole
One of the first rumors to sprout up even before the conclusion of the World Series is the Yankees intention to put the full-court press on free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole this offseason.
If you can’t beat Gerrit Cole, sign him for an absurd amount of money? Because that’s what it will likely take for the Yankees to outbid other potential suitors for the superb services of the 29-year-old right-hander.
In Game 3 of the ALCS, Cole was his usual stellar self — tossing seven shutout innings of four-hit ball while striking out seven Bombers in the Bronx. Cole did recently prove human, though, as, in Game 1 of the World Series versus the Nationals, he surrendered five runs on eight hits while striking out six across seven frames.
However, still, seven weeks away (Dec 8-12) from the kickoff of the Winter Meetings in beautiful San Diego, CA, Andy Martino of SNY says the Yanks are “expected to engage” Cole, the presumptive 2019 AL Cy Young winner.
Martino writes that while Cole and his agent Scott Boras do not want to limit his market, that the general belief around baseball is that Cole would very much like to pitch somewhere near his native California. And it just so happens that the Angels have both the cash and need for an ace shooter.
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While there is little doubt that the Houston Astros will do all they can to keep their star, according to Sportrac, Cole’s AAV will reach $32.9 million — with the likelihood of him garnering a six-year, $197.9 million contract.
Although MLB’s 2020 luxury tax has yet to be finalized, it is only expected to raise $2M from where it was this season ($206M). Therefore, will the Yankees finally do what it takes to land an unquestioned No. 1 — resulting in the expenditure of an exorbitant amount of dough?
With $130M already on the books for next season, the Yanks could clear at least $30M with the retirement of C.C. Sabathia — and letting free agents Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius walk.
Sweeny Murti of WFAN had a somewhat uncomfortable back-and-forth with general manager Brian Cashman during the Yankees end-of-season wrap up interview on Thursday.
Murti asked if Cashman or owner Hal Steinbrenner had any regrets about passing on pitchers that are currently in the World Series, namely Justin Verlander, Cole, and Patrick Corbin.
Cashman said that he didn’t pass on them, before continuing: via NJ.com:
"“Justin Verlander was a player two-three years ago that was in play, and if you recall, the payroll structure that we were under … (Verlander) was not going to fit in our environment given the directives from above. … “Patrick Corbin, did we not make an offer? Yes or no? We made an offer to Patrick Corbin. The Nationals made a more significant offer to Patrick Corbin. … “Houston made an offer that in Pittsburgh’s mind was a better offer than ours. This is all ancient history, but these are all facts. But that doesn’t mean we passed on anything. We made attempts to try to acquire.”"
Cashman also brought up Dallas Keuchel, and how the contract he extended the former Cy Young winner was just “a hair shy” of the Braves’ deal.
Naturally, this rhetoric does little to inspire the confidence of Yankee fans — that they’ll finally get Cole, a player drafted 28th overall by the Bombers out of high school in 2008 (only to see Cole attend UCLA instead).
Then two offseasons ago, the Yankees and Pirates held extensive trade talks for Cole, who was coming off a down campaign. And although specific names were never mentioned, it’s believed that Pittsburgh wanted either Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar, plus Clint Frazier as the headliners of a much larger deal.
Inevitably, the Bucs settled for Houston’s package of pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin. It’s clear to see who got the better of that trade.
So while we’ve heard the stories of Cole being a lifelong Yankees fan that even attended Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona, dressed in pinstriped garb — we saw how money prevailed over fandom last winter in the case of Patrick Corbin.
And besides, Jim Bowden recently tweeted that he Cole told him he grew up both a Yankees and an Angels fan. That’s not comforting, not one bit.