Yankees answer to starting rotation question is free agent Gerrit Cole
By Derek McAdam
The Yankees are entering the offseason with many questions to take into consideration. One of the most critical issues they will have to address is starting pitching — and how much money they’ll offer free agent Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees most significant advantage during the regular season was having a deep bullpen that was dependable game after game. However, in the postseason, the bullpen was exhausted, especially against the Houston Astros.
From what the Yanks experienced during the playoffs, they couldn’t ask for six innings from their starters and then turn to the ‘pen. Sometimes manager Aaron Boone was a little too cautious, and other times, the starters left him no choice but to go to the ‘pen, midway through the game.
Looking at the World Series champion Washington Nationals and runner-up Houston Astros, there is a common thread between those two clubs. They both financially invested in excellent starting pitching.
Houston went out and traded for Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. Between these three starters, they earned $72.5 million this season (Houston didn’t have to pay all of Greinke’s salary as Arizona picked up a portion).
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The Nationals signed Max Scherzer in 2015 to a lucrative 7-year contract worth $210 million, extended Stephen Strasburg for 7-years at a value of $175 million, and signed Patrick Corbin this past winter to a 6-year deal worth $140 million.
Both the Nats and ‘Stros went all-in on starting pitching and made it to the World Series, deking it out for seven games. To get past the Astros, the Yankees will have to invest similarly.
Tanaka has been the Yankees postseason ace for the past few seasons. James Paxton provided a boost in his first career playoff run, even though he had a rough time in Game 2 of the ALCS due to extended rest. Luis Severino has experienced postseason struggles but can still be an innings eater.
The Yankees need a one-two punch in the playoffs. They already have one piece, but they need that second. For that, there is no other answer to this problem other than Gerrit Cole.
It has been reported that Brian Cashman is considering bringing Cole to the Bronx this offseason. The Yankees GM drafted him in the first-round back in 2008; however, Cole declined to sign and went to play at UCLA, instead.
Cashman also tried to trade for Cole in January 2018 but did not want to include Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar in a package deal. There is no doubt that Cashman has had serious interest in putting Cole in pinstripes, which is a bonus for Yankee fans.
Cole has also been a lifelong Yankee fan and even attended the 2001 World Series. This is another plus in hopes that Cole signs (do not let Patrick Corbin being a Yankee fan and not signing bring you down).
To sign Cole, it is going to take seven years or more. Cashman has to be aware of this because Cole is more than likely not accepting anything less.
Max Scherzer’s contract has worked out well for the Nationals five seasons in. Cole is the biggest free-agent name since Scherzer and has even better statistics than Scherzer did in his age 29 campaign.
Cashman can use Scherzer as an example for what Cole could be in the Bronx — a real ace who is an absolute workhorse. It is going to take a lot, but it is what the Yankees need.