The Yankees, openly pursuing Gerrit Cole, have to be stunned by the contract awarded to Stephen Strasburg. What will be the final cost of Cole?
The Yankees had to know that Stephen Strasburg would be paid for the year he had in leading the Washington Nationals to a victory in the 2019 World Series – a performance that even superseded his teammate, a future Hall of Famer, Max Scherzer.
Equally, the Yankees can hardly have been surprised that Strasburg “went home” to the Nationals, the only team he has ever played for, and despite their overtures to him over the past weekend.
What is somewhat disturbing, though, is the magnitude of the deal being reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. It’s a stunning seven-year deal that guarantees the Scott Boras client a whopping $245MM, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
Gerrit Cole is without argument THE free-agent in the class of 2020. As a Scott Boras client along with Strasburg, the bar is now raised from, begging the question, what is the ceiling for Cole – and even more significantly – what is the ceiling for the Yankees?
The good news (possibly) for the Yankees is the length of the deal at seven years. Strasburg’s agreement supersedes the previous high of $217 million for a pitcher (David Price).
But at stake for Cole is the distinction of holding the title of the highest average per year salary now held also by Strasburg at $35 million per.
The Yankees are in it to win it – we’ll see
The Yankees appear to have that old fire burning that they will not be outbid on Cole. Hal Steinbrenner has been coy but positive in indicating he will listen to anything Brian Cashman brings to his desk.
This, in turn, indicates the Yankees will go beyond the $248 million luxury tax threshold where the big bucks kick in as a luxury tax.
If geography turns out to be the deal killer some predict, and Cole opts to return to his Southern California roots, the Yankees can live with that.
But his decision will not rest on money and getting outbid by another team as in the case of Patrick Corbin last year when the Nationals swooped Corbin up for a few more dollars than the Yankees offered.
The controller in the negotiations is Scott Boras. We can assume Cashman has told Boras not “to leave town without me,” but it’s Boras’s option to make that last call to the Yankees before Cole leaps another team.
Cashman insists all his eggs are not in one basket
The subjects of those “dialogues” remain anyone’s guess. If Cashman is referring to the remaining free-agent starters, he’s talking about the second-tier containing Hyun-Jin Ryu (32) and Dallas Keuchel (32).
Ryu figures to be in a $20 million-plus category while Keuchel will settle in the $15-16 million per year. Neither can be considered an “ace,” and with Ryu, there is cause for concern as to how his stuff would translate to the American League.
An extra arm, and especially an established veteran hurler, can’t hurt the Yankees. But, they already have Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Luis Severino, who also fit that second-tier starting role. So, Cashman is going to have to tell us more.
Reports indicate Cole will sign before the Winter Meeting close on Thursday. At some point, Boras will contact the three teams in the hunt (Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels) with a text that says, “Ante up boys. What’s your final offer?”