After winning Game 5 of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals, Gerrit Cole has likely started his final game for the Houston Astros. The 29-year-old right-handed fireballer becomes a free agent after the series wraps up. According to Dodgers Nation, Cole will command a record contact for a pitcher on the open market.
David Price holds the current record for the richest pitching contract in baseball history, signing his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox following the 2015 season. But according to the Dodgers Nation analysis, Cole will probably command approximately $35 million per season over a seven-year deal — a contract worth $245 million.
With the Dodgers potentially losing MLB ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu to free agency, Los Angeles appears to be the logical destination for Cole. Signing with the Dodgers would also put Cole just a two hour drive from his childhood home of Newport Beach, California. The 2019 Major League strikeout leader (326) played the first five seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the Astros acquired him in January, 2018.
The Astros appear unlikely to make a bid to keep Cole in the fold, according to a report by KTRK TV in Houston. With staff co-ace Justin Verlander set to be paid $33 million in 2020, and Zack Greinke owed a $35 million salary, Astros owner Jim Crane has said that he wants the team to keep its payroll under the 2020 luxury tax threshold of $208 million.
Though Los Angeles appears to be the most likely destination for Cole, the New York Yankees are expected to also join the hunt for the 29-year-old, according to The Washington Post.
That the Yankees have coveted Cole is not a secret. They used the 28th pick in the first round of the 2008 draft to select Cole out of Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California. Cole, however, rejected the Yankees' offer and chose to stay close to home, attending UCLA instead.
The Yankees again attempted to add Cole to their roster after the 2017 season, according to The Washington Post, but the Pirates decided instead to take four top prospects from the Astros and send Cole to Houston.
Cole currently makes a paycheck of $13.5 million from the Astros. He will certainly do much better than that on the free agent market, especially with representation from super-agent Scott Boras, who is known to hold his clients back from signing until he is sure that the largest possible offer is on the table.