After drafting righty Gerrit Cole out of high school in 2008 but failing to sign him, then unsuccessfully attempting to trade for Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates nine years later, the New York Yankees are finally “serious” about acquiring the 2019 20-game winner. According to a report by MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, along with manager Aaron Boone, flew to Southern California to meet with Cole on Tuesday.
According to earlier reports, the Yankees considered themselves “still in” on the quest to sign Cole, who won six postseason games while losing only two in a pair of seasons with the Houston Astros. But New York management also believed that he was more likely to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, or another team closer to his home in California’s Orange County.
According to Feinsand, however, the meeting on Tuesday — also attended by new Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake — “is said to have gone well, though no dollar figures were discussed.”
New York Post columnist Joel Sherman wrote that the meeting with Cole demonstrated the Yankees were “serious” about landing the 29-year-old, seven-year veteran, despite the general belief that he prefers to play for a team on the West Coast.
In 2008, Sherman wrote, the Yankees were determined to sign free-agent lefty CC Sabathia. But at that time, the former Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers ace — a native of Vallejo, California — was also thought to prefer a West Coast destination.
“But Cashman and the Yankees won him over with face-to-face meetings,” Sherman recounted, saying that more than a decade later, the Yankees GM appears to be attempting the same strategy in his quest for Cole.
Sabathia himself — who ultimately signed with the Yankees and retired this year after 11 seasons in the Bronx — earlier said that he had spoken at length with Cole about his own experience signing with New York rather than with a California team. After those conversations, Sabathia concluded, the former Astros righty would sign with the Yankees “if you give that motherf***** enough money.”
But Cole was reportedly not the only target for Cashman and Boone on their West Coast journey. On Wednesday, the Yankees brass was set to meet with San Diego native Stephen Strasburg, Feinsand reported.
The 10-year veteran — who was picked first overall in the 2009 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Washington Nationals — is still expected to remain in the nation’s capital. On the other hand, Strasburg is believed to have met “recently” with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
If Strasburg opted to ink with Los Angeles, he would give the Dodgers their first high-profile free agent signing since current president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman took over the front office at Chavez Ravine five years ago, the Los Angeles Times reported.