MLB Rumors: In Gerrit Cole Free Agent Race, Yankees Emerge As Clear Frontrunner, Says Ex-Mets GM Jim Duquette

With the Major League Baseball General Managers Meetings well underway in Scottsdale, Arizona, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is now preparing for talks with Houston Astros 20-game winner Gerrit Cole. In fact, while experts and even oddsmakers have favored the Los Angeles Angels to land Cole, the real favorite is now Cashman's club.

At least, that's the view of one MLB insider, former New York Mets General Manager Jim Duquette, who declared the Yankees leaders in the Cole sweepstakes during an appearance on the New York cable TV station SNY on Tuesday, quoted via Twitter.

"They are the frontrunner for Gerrit Cole, more than any other team out there," Duquette said in the interview.

"They have the ability to spend money, and they have the ability to wait as long as it's going to take for him to sign."
Cole is not expected to wait as long as last offseason's top free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, did to make their decisions. Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in February, soon after Machado made his decision to join the San Diego Padres.

But according to a separate SNY report, Cole will not ink a deal coming out of this week's GM meetings, either.

Brian Cashman smiles.
Getty Images | Mike Stobe
New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

SNY reporter Andy Martino wrote on Tuesday that according to sources in the MLB industry, Cole's agent Scott Boras has indicated that the righty will not finalize a deal with any team until January.

Boras also represents the other top free-agent pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, who was World Series MVP with the 2019 champion Washington Nationals, as well as sought-after free-agent pitchers Hyun-jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Dallas Keuchel of the Atlanta Braves.

Cashman confirmed on Tuesday that the Yankees did, indeed, plan to speak with Cole's agents.

"We're going to talk to Strasburg. We'll talk to Cole. We'll talk to the higher end guys, clearly, and have conversations there," Cashman said, adding that he would also speak with "some surprise guys."

The Yankees won the American League East behind a 103-win regular season in 2019 but fell in the American League Championship series to Cole and the Astros — missing the World Series for the 10th straight season. That's the longest the 27-time champs have gone without a berth in baseball's Fall Classic since a 14-year stretch from 1982 through 1995, according to Baseball Reference.

Cole is a native of Orange County, California. He played his college baseball in Los Angeles at UCLA, leading to the widespread belief that the 29-year-old will sign with either the Angels or Dodgers.

Both clubs are likely to make significant payroll expenditures, making them probable candidates to acquire the high-priced pitcher. But Duquette's belief that the Yankees are the real frontrunner for Cole appears to align with a statement made by newly retired Yankees hurler CC Sabathia last week.

"If you give that motherf***** enough money, he's going to want to come here," Sabathia said, of Cole's chances to choose the Yankees as his next team.