Two days after reports indicated that the New York Yankees were getting ready to unleash a "record setting" offer in hopes of snaring free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole, a new report says that there is a "strong likelihood" that he will be under contract with one of five teams — possibly the Yankees — before the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings this week in San Diego wrap up.
According to a tweet from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the bidding for Cole — who won 20 games for the Houston Astros in 2019 while leading the American League with a 2.50 ERA — is "getting serious" in San Diego. The Yankees are one of the teams "in" on Cole. But so are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, and two "mystery teams," according to Heyman.
On Monday, the Washington Nationals re-signed their own free-agent superstar hurler, Stephen Strasburg, inking the 2019 World Series MVP to a seven-year, $245 million deal, CBS Sports reported. That contract sets a new record for a free-agent pitcher, in terms of the average annual value of the deal at $35 million, as well as for total cash paid.
However, Cole's contract could blow Strasburg's out of the water, according to the CBS Sports report.
The Yankees entered the Winter Meetings reportedly prepared to offer a seven-year, $245 million deal to Cole. But after the Nationals gave Strasburg that same deal, the final offer to the former Astro and Pittsburgh Pirate is likely to exceed $300 million in total cash value, according to the CBS Sports report.
Though five teams are reportedly competing to land the 29-year-old native of Orange County, California, ESPN reporter Jeff Passan reportedly said on Tuesday that "everyone — and I mean everyone — at the Winter Meeting believes Gerrit Cole is going to be a New York Yankee," as quoted via Twitter.
Passan had earlier reported that the Yankees were prepared to "smash" the previous record set by free-agent pitcher David Price when he signed with the Boston Red Sox after the 2015 season. Price's seven-year deal carried a total value of $217 million. If the contract given to Strasburg is any indication, the ESPN reporter's earlier prediction appears certain to come true.
Though the exact value of the Yankees' potential offer to Cole remains unclear, CBS Sports reported that whatever it is, the contract will be "very, very competitive."
Though Cole is a native of Southern California, he reportedly told Yankees Manager Aaron Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman that he has no "West Coast bias" as he fields offers from his prospective new teams.