After a meeting between free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole and New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman in California this week, the 27-time World Series champions have made signing the former Houston Astros righty — who led the American League with a 2.50 ERA in 2019 — their “total focus,” according to a top Major League Baseball “insider” journalist.
The report posted via Twitter by MLB Network “insider” Jon Heyman, appears to corroborate an earlier report that following the meeting between Cole and Yankees brass, the team’s ownership has now authorized Cashman to extend a “record-setting” offer to the 29-year-old, who won a career-high 20 games for the Astros while losing only five last season.
Cole’s previous best was a 19-8 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015.
According to an ESPN report, the Yankees are now prepared to make Cole a financial offer that would “smash” the record for a free agent pitcher currently held by lefty David Price, who signed a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox following the 2015 season.
But the Yankees are likely to find themselves in a bidding war with the Los Angeles Angels, who also covet Cole. The competition could drive the total value of Cole’s contract past the $250 million mark, according to the ESPN report.
The Angels are based in Anaheim, California, just a few miles from Cole’s hometown of Orange, where he pitched for Orange Lutheran High School. But according to an earlier Heyman tweet, Cole in his meeting with Cashman assured the Yankees GM that he had no “West Coast bias” when it comes to deciding where he will play starting in the 2020 season.
Heyman reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies are also interested in making offers for Cole’s services. But according to ESPN reporter Jeff Passan on Twitter, the Dodgers and Angels, along with the Yankees, are the favorites to land Cole — and all are expected to issue their “initial” contract offers to Cole’s agent Scott Boras in “the coming days.”
The meeting between Cole and Cashman, which was also attended by Yankees’ Manager Aaron Boone, reportedly went “well,” though neither side brought up the subject of money. But for New York, a big-money acquisition of Cole would signal a reverse in direction for the organization, which has not issued a contract valued at over $100 million to a free agent since inking Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka in 2014, ESPN.com reported.
But Tanaka is in the final season of his contract, and the team is also expected to unload starters J.A. Happ and James Paxton before the 2021 season, freeing up cash to soften the impact of what could be a $35 million per year contract for Cole, ESPN reported.