According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Yankees have made free agent Gerrit Cole their No. 1 priority this offseason and already received ownership approval to offer a record-setting contract.
The Yankees haven’t handed out a nine-figure contract since they gave Masahiro Tanaka $155 million reasons to come to New York in 2014.
However, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Yankee ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman the green light to offer free agent Gerrit Cole a record-setting deal.
As of right now, the highest-paid starting pitcher in the history of baseball is David Price — who went to Boston on a seven-year, $217 million contract back in 2016.
Following the recent signings of Zack Wheeler to the Phillies for five-years, $118 million — and veteran left-hander Cole Hamels to the Braves on a one-year, $18M deal, the market for starting pitchers is a beginning to skew dangerously out of control.
With the Angels, Dodgers and Yankees all gathering for a potential bidding war, there’s some belief that we may be looking at the first $250-300 million pitcher in Gerrit Cole.
What wasn’t revealed until Thursday, was that five-time World Series champion Andy Pettite joined the Yankee contingent that met with Cole on Tuesday in Southern California.
Calling on Pettitte, who spent three seasons in Houston before returning to the Bronx to finish his illustrious career, shows just how motivated the Bombers are not to let Cole get away a third time.
A pitcher that was ahead of his time in terms of studying the analytics of the game was a brilliant chess move. Pettitte’s ability to speak to the contrast of pitching in Houston as opposed to New York also doesn’t hurt.
New team pitching coach Matt Blake is another master of data-driven performance, and his aptitude to quickly form a bond with Cole over the science of numbers could play a considerable role in Cole’s potential signing with the Yankees.
George A. King III of the NY Post recently wrote of the importance that Cole places on analytics and credits his career revival to the copious amounts of data he was privy to thanks to the Astros’ approach. *Insert two bangs and a slider joke here.*
“The biggest turnaround for him was how open he was to analytics and how he goes after hitters.’’
Being a Scott Boras client, many expected Cole’s decision on where he’d sign to drag on well past January 1. And although it still might, the Yankees are doing something they haven’t in six long years when it comes to courting a starting pitcher — they’re being aggressive and putting 29 other teams on notice — that they’re not afraid to spend on a player they so desperately want.
As of today, it’s a guessing game just how much money Cole will command. However, what will he settle on to pitch for the Yankees? Is consistently playing in October more important than, say, an extra $25 million-plus from a California-based club? Especially one that historically fails to make the postseason.
While the powers that be in the Bronx are saying all the right things, they too must have a breaking point. Are eight years, $300 million too much of a commitment? What about seven years at $275M, or five years and $250M? Because it’s nice to hear that ownership is willing to set the spending mark on a pitcher, but it’s a whole other actually to get his name on the dotted line.