The Yankees officially have their true ace, but in the long run, will the Bombers be regretting granting Gerrit Cole his mega-deal?
Where were you the night of December 10, 2019, specifically at 11:56 P.M.? Why do I ask this? Well, that was the night and exact time that former-Astros’ Ace Gerrit Cole reportedly agreed to a 9-year, $324 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees. At the time, Yankee fans were joyous, celebrating the fact that the Bombers finally got their long-awaited ace, or “white whale,” as General Manager Brian Cashman referred to him. However, a lot of these long-term pitching marriages don’t normally work out in the long run, and those fears are reasonable to have with Cole.
Cole and his Age
Gerrit Cole will turn 30 on September 8, and his contract may take him up until his 39th birthday. The point is, Cole is in his prime now, which is great. Unfortunately, it’s common to see pitchers begin to regress by around the age of 35. Ideally, you would hope for at minimum five-to-six years of dominance before the flamethrowing righty begins to trail off. Anything more than that would be great, while anything less than that would be a disappointment.
Due to Cole’s age, it’s more likely we see a regressed Cole than the prime Cole we can expect now, and every year will just be getting him closer to a less-effective pitcher.
The Yankee Stadium Problem
As much as he’s a strikeout pitcher, Cole also surrenders fly balls, and, more dangerously, long balls. Cole was tied for 21st in the Majors with 29 home runs allowed. Take that problem and bring it to Yankee Stadium, and suddenly that problem is even more prevalent. This year, Cole is tied for first in the majors with 12 home runs allowed already, along with new Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling.
Thankfully for Cole, eight of these home runs have been solo shots, which, in the short term, is harmless. The other four have come with just one runner on base, making them two-run jobs. Basically, the long ball hasn’t bitten Cole in the behind just yet, but when you’re working with a high-velocity guy like how Cole is, the potential threat of a home run is always prevalent, even more so in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
What Even is Considered Success?
Generally, the golden rule is one championship to justify a trade acquisition or a big free-agent signing. But with us knowing how good the Yankees are at full strength and potentially five-plus years of Cole being a top-five pitcher in the sport, is one championship really good enough? I must mention: I can’t answer that for you. Success is defined by the person defining it. But let me ask you this: between talent like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Aaron Hicks, and then some, are you content with only one championship? Of course, it’s better than nothing, but I, personally, would want more.
With the recent trends over the past few years and coming up short in the postseason, it’s fair to worry whether or not the Bombers can sustain a dynasty-like run if they can even win one title.
Obviously, having Gerrit Cole makes your team better and it gives you an immensely better shot at success. These long-term deals have tendencies to blow up in the team’s faces, however, and it’s not a crazy thought to fear the same will happen here.