Though the Yankees aren’t alone in meeting with free-agent pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg before the Winter Meetings kick off on Dec 8 in San Diego, reports are positive that both enjoyed what the Yankee brass had to say.
We’ve been waiting for the Yankees to make a big splash on a top-flight starting pitcher for some time now.
No disrespect to James Paxton, who, after a rough start to life in pinstripes last season, rolled off 10 consecutive wins down the stretch and looks to be an excellent fit in New York moving forward.
However, less than a week from the opening of the Winter Meetings, which has seen marquee free agents shy away from announcing mega deals as they did in the past, the Yankees sent a trio of decision-makers in Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and new pitching coach Matt Blake, to Southern California to meet with Scott Boras and his clients, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.
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First, the Yanks spoke with Cole, who according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, “felt a good rapport,” and although financial considerations were reportedly not laid out on the table, the contingent of Yankee reps spoke about the allure of playing in pinstripes, the brand itself, and how it could positively affect the player and his family.
Shortly after meeting with Cole, Jon Heyman tweeted some encouraging news for Yankee fans — that despite all the speculation of the 2019 AL Cy Young runner-up being eager to pitch near his home in Newport Beach, CA, that’s not the case.
"Gerrit Cole assured the Yankees he has “no West Coast bias” at yesterday’s meeting which lasted 4 plus hours. Yankees believe he’s built for NYC but have been worried he preferred LA."
Whether Cole is being genuine or is merely driving up his asking price for the Angels or Dodgers, remains to be seen.
Next up was Strasburg, who Mark Feinsand reports received much of the same treatment as Cole did, including an overview of the organization and pitching philosophies, thanks to Boone and Blake, all without talking specific dollars and cents. Reportedly, the meeting “went well,” which when you’re dealing with a Scott Boras client has to be seen as a win.
On the same day that Zack Wheeler, 29, signed a 5-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies, you can bet the market as a whole was discussed.
With Cole Hamels inking a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves, asking prices for a free-agent starting pitcher is beginning to take shape.
And by that, I mean it’s going to cost a ton to sign Cole or Strasburg. Therefore, the quicker the Yankees can do so, the better. Because if Hyun-Jin Ryu gets $130 million, all of MLB is in trouble.
After passing on Max Scherzer some five years ago, shying away from trading for Justin Verlander in 2017 and Gerrit Cole in 2018 — and failing to win the bid on Patrick Corbin last season, now is the Yankees chance to make a genuine statement of contention with the inking of a high priced, but highly effective staff ace.