The Yankees have advanced to the ALCS, but it’s never too soon to start pondering whether or not they still pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason.
This year’s free-agent market is stacked, but not in the way it has been in the past few years.
As opposed to the superstar position players that we have seen on the market in the past couple of years, this year’s class features some of the best pitchers in baseball. Three of these pitchers, Ryu, Strasburg, and Cole all had tremendous 2019 campaigns, and are legitimate Cy Young Award candidates.
Hyun Jin Ryu has not been consistently elite and is considered somewhat “old” as a free agent starting pitcher (He is 32 years old).
Strasburg has been one of the faces of the Nationals’ franchise ever since he was drafted 1st overall, and the hype surrounding the 21-year-old’s debut was enormous. Since that fateful day in 2012, Strasburg has been one of the best pitchers in the game, but he has struggled to stay on the field, as he has been injury-prone.
Then there is Gerrit Cole;
Cole is someone who was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Cole declined the offer and instead went to play at UCLA for a few years. In 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates took Cole with the 1st overall pick, and this time, he accepted their offer.
Cole was a very good pitcher with the Pirates, and even was borderline elite- but when he got dealt to the Houston Astros before the 2018 season, something changed.
When he joined the Astros rotation, something just clicked (as it seems to with every pitcher to join Houston…).
The pair of Cole and Verlander quickly thrust themselves into the conversation of the best pitching duo in baseball. Cole began to put up historic strikeout numbers and was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league.
The 2019 season comes along, and the top two finalists to win the AL Cy Young Award are Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
In what may be one of the most interesting Cy Young Award battles in recent memory, Verlander threw a no-hitter, and Cole threw 326 K’s.
The reason why Cole is the gem of the 2019 free-agent class- besides being one of the best pitchers in the game, is that he is young, and doesn’t have “loyalty” to any specific team. He has only been with Houston for 2 seasons, and Pittsburgh traded him. Houston will likely not be able to afford to pay Cole the incredible contract he will command, and he will therefore walk.
The Yankees are the obvious fit. A team which its only “weakness” is its starting pitching, and is in need of an elite pitcher to head their rotation, as well as the ability to dish out a huge contract.
The issue with the Bombers signing Cole is that the team has a few of its own free agents that they have to make decisions on, as well as locking up their young stars to long term deals.
Will the Yankees resign fan-favorite Didi Gregorius? How about one of the best backup catchers in the game, Austin Romine? Do you let Betances walk?
It would be in the Yankees best interest to sign their young studs to extensions when they still are manageable, and the Yankees front office is likely preparing to do so.
If they do, then they will have a lot of trouble signing the star pitcher from Houston.
In addition to the Yankees financial questions, there is another team that might throw the bank at Cole, and that would be the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels have moved on from their manager Brad Ausmus, and are currently seeking out the service of former Cubs manager, Joe Maddon. The Angels offense is pretty good, as they have the best player in the game anchoring their lineup. Their trouble has been their pitching, and specifically their rotation. Cole would mirror Trout as the anchor to their rotation, and if that happened, the Angels would have arguably the best pitcher in the game, and unarguably the best all-around player in the game.
Should the Yankees go after Gerrit Cole?
Should they break the bank for him?
Will they need to in order to get him?
Prediction: Do they sign him?