The Yankees are rediscovering themselves as they pull out all the plugs in an attempt to defy the odds of signing Gerrit Cole. Welcome back.
The Yankees have been playing around the fringes of the free-agent market for more than a decade. The team’s last big play was in 2008 when they signed the Gerrit Cole of that year, CC Sabathia.
The Yankees added Mark Teixeria, another expensive signing to loft home runs into the short right-field porch at Yankees Stadium, and off they went to win their 27th World Championship in 2009.
A few days ago, Sabathia reflected on that time, and mainly the side trip Brian Cashman made from Las Vegas, where the Winter Meetings were underway, to visit Sabathia at his Northern California home.
“That sealed the deal. If Cash didn’t fly to California, I probably wouldn’t have signed [with the Yankees],’’ – told the New York Post.
Perhaps speaking in code to Gerrit Cole, Sabathia added, “If you really want to win every year and give yourself a chance to win, there is no other place than to come here.’’
Yankees will leave no stone unturned
So it is telling that Cashman flew across the country and back to New York twice this week, in between rappelling down the Landmark Building in Stamford CT, to visit with Gerrit Cole.
As with Sabathia, there was no talk about contracts and money. Instead, the visit was aimed at a “get to know you” opportunity. The Yankees termed the visit “positive.”
Cashman brought Aaron Boone and Matt Blake, the Yankees new pitching coach, with him to give Cole a chance to pick their brains a bit as well.
More significantly, though, Andy Pettitte came along to give a player’s perspective of what it’s like to be a New York Yankee, playing in the center of baseball’s universe. Of note too, Pettitte spent time with the Houston Astros, the team Cole is leaving.
Perhaps ruing the time when the Yankees drafted him out of high school and he didn’t bother to interview with the team, in recent days, Cole has made sure it is known he has no aversion to playing in New York.
But the most significant change in thinking is coming from the Yankees. Unlike last year with Patrick Corbin, and later with Dallas Keuchel, when the Yankees somewhat arrogantly said to both – here’s our offer, take it or leave it – the Yankees are openly courting Cole, and to a lesser extent, Stephen Strasburg.
If they haven’t already done so, the Yankees are prepared to make Gerrit Cole the most highly paid pitcher to ever step on a major league mound.
That offer is believed to be in the neighborhood of $300 million. More significantly, though, the Yankees are making it clear they will not be outbid by another team, as was the case with Corbin (Nationals) and Keuchel (Braves).
Yankees still on the “hoping” side with Cole
Nevertheless, it all comes back to Cole. If his heart is set on playing and living on the West Coast, that pretty much settles it, and no matter what the Yankees do is useless.
As a client of Scott Boras, Cole will be pushed to hold back on deciding until some of the dust has settled with other prime free-agent signings.
No doubt, Boras raised a toast when Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies for $111 million, a sum above what most believed he would get.
They’re back in the game – ante up!
For Yankees fans, all that matters is the team has dug its head out of the sand, and they are back in the game.
There is no longer talk about staying under the $208 million threshold before the luxury tax kicks in. Plus, though Cole is the guy they want, there are other players out there the Yankees can pursue without a need to nickel and dime them into signing a deal.
And finally, of course, there’s the elephant that just walked into the room – Steve Cohen, the eventual new owner of the New York Mets. Cohen’s open pockets ensure a renewal of the inter-city rivalry between the Yankees and Mets, both on and off the field.
The Yankees are all-in on Gerrit Cole. The focus now shifts over to Cole as the Yankees, and their fans await his decision…
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