Gerrit Cole Reportedly Agrees To Sign Nine-Year, $324 Million Contract With Yankees

Free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole has just agreed to a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported late on Tuesday night, via Twitter.

The news of Cole's new deal with the Yankees came just hours after Heyman took to Twitter to report that the Yankees might not be the only team seriously bidding for the right-hander before this year's Winter Meetings wrap up later in the week. As noted by The Inquisitr, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, and two "mystery teams" were also expected to figure in the Cole sweepstakes before the Yankees made their big move.

In a separate report, USA Today's Bob Nightengale wrote that both Los Angeles teams "came hard" at Cole, with the Angels purportedly making an offer that was "just short" of $300 million. Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was quoted on Tuesday as saying that the team was being "more aggressive than [he] can recall" in their pursuit of the coveted hurler.

In the end, it was the Yankees who had the best contract offer, just as speculated by reports from earlier in the week. These rumors suggested the club would try to top the seven-year, $245 million offer the Washington Nationals made on Monday to re-sign their own free-agent ace pitcher, Stephen Strasburg. While Strasburg agreed to a deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $35 million, Cole's contract will pay him an average of $36 million a year. This makes his contract the richest in MLB history, both in terms of total value and AAV.

While further details on the Yankees' offer for Cole are mostly scant, a tweet from ESPN's Jeff Passan suggested early on Wednesday morning that the 29-year-old righty has an opt-out clause that can be invoked after the fifth year of his contract.

As further pointed out by Nightengale, Cole's imminent arrival in New York will come 11 years after the Yankees picked the Newport Beach, California, native in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Instead of joining the Yankees' minor-league system right after high school, Cole opted to play college baseball for the UCLA Bruins, en route to a No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 draft and a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Astros.

Last season, Cole won 20 games for Houston with a 2.50 ERA, only for his team to fall one game short of winning the World Series against Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.