Is Yankees rotation's success giving Hal Steinbrenner a terrible Gerrit Cole idea?

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

We've covered all the reasons not to panic about Hal Steinbrenner's recent comments about the Yankees' unsustainable payroll (gag) and what it means for a potential Juan Soto contract.

According to Steinbrenner ... a restructured payroll probably won't mean all that much for a Soto offer, but might indicate several annoyances yet to come regarding the roster the Yankees are willing to build around him. That leads us into one reason to panic: the "he wouldn't ... would he?" possibility of Steinbrenner being at his absolute worst this winter, unsatisfied by the contracts of Gleyber Torres, Clay Holmes and Alex Verdugo all melting off the books.

What if he ... simply ... decided to melt one more ball of wax after watching pitching coach Matt Blake turn the Yankees' rotation into an 1893 Deadest Ball Era supernova. New York's quintet recently posted the first 15-start stretch of allowing two runs or fewer in five or more innings since before Teddy Roosevelt was president, and they did so without their most expensive ace, Gerrit Cole, who's still recovering (and has an ill-timed opt-out in his contract after 2024).

Cole's presence has been invaluable to the team's early-season dominance, even as a glorified instructor. But does Hal Steinbrenner really want to pay his de facto second pitching coach a $36,000,000 tip?

Remember, this is a terrible idea. This is what a dumb guy would think. But, with all this talk of unsustainable payrolls, it seems fair to be moderately scared that Steinbrenner might be watching his unheralded rotation dominate while wondering whether he can do to Cole what he recently did to Blake Snell: forget about him.

Yankees set historic pitching streak without Gerrit Cole, which could give Hal Steinbrenner a bad Juan Soto idea

Again, a normal person would look at the way the current rotation is operating with Cole in the background and think, "Cole's staff is in great hands without him, and is set up astoundingly for his return, which will likely coincide with their fade! You can never have enough pitching!"

Now, we're just a few months away from learning whether Steinbrenner is, in fact, a normal person. He could be, instead, a money-thirsty investor crawling through the Sahara who can only see two dangling money bags when he looks at Cole.

When the season ends, Cole will more than likely trigger his opt-out clause, which the Yankees can void immediately by tacking a 10th year onto the back of his contract (that year will be 2029, when Juan Soto will be 30 years old). They should do exactly that. But, if 2024 keeps unfurling in the same manner it's begun, with Soto proving himself essential and Cole's unit chugging along seamlessly without him, Steinbrenner's decision might feature more sweat than anyone anticipated.