Gerrit Cole is the highest-paid pitcher in Major League Baseball after agreeing to a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees after the 2019 season. Prior to Trevor Bauer’s try-hard short-term contract this offseason, Cole was the league’s second highest-paid player on an AAV basis at $36 million per year (only behind Mike Trout).
That’s why him sticking up for the little guy is so cool.
Cole isn’t among the front-facing player representatives of the MLBPA, but he’s an Alternate Pension Committee Representative, with fellow Yankee Zack Britton and former Yankee James Paxton serving as the main reps.
So in a sense, it was somewhat imperative for the right-hander to say something about former Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather, who had some disparaging comments about manipulating players’ service time in addition to the fact that he was essentially bragging about cost-cutting.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole called out former Mariners CEO Kevin Mather.
The crazier part about what Mather said — aside from his critique of some players’ English-speaking abilities — is that none of it was necessarily surprising. At this point, we all but officially know that teams manipulate service time, pride themselves on disgustingly low payroll all in the name of profits, scoff at players who don’t accept below-market-value contract extensions when they’re incredibly young, and drive wages down in free agency by playing the waiting game (and by “waiting game,” we mean waiting until spring training or past the start of the season).
Cole made sure to further amplify that these are immense problems in baseball and his commentary is spot on.
A guy like Cole, who has benefitted in the highest regard from baseball’s broken system, laying down the law when it comes to labor tensions and disputes could be instrumental in moving the conversation forward and fixing these poor practices.
And you know what helped out the MLBPA even more on Wednesday? Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic coming out to say that the organization is “punishing” him for refusing to sign a premature contract extension. According to the centerpiece in the famed Mets-M’s Robinson Cano-Edwin Diaz trade, he was told that he would debut in 2020 if he had signed the deal. Now, he’ll be called up whenever the Mariners feel it best fits their financial interests.
Don’t worry, bud. Cole’s got your back, and it couldn’t come at a better time since the owners and players are set to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement next offseason.
Things could get ugly, but if they do, it’ll be for all the right reasons. One of the league’s best pitchers on the most famous sports team in the world is clearly ready to go to battle, and that could change everything for the sport.