The Yankees are reportedly working on a record-setting seven-year, $245MM contract offer to free-agent right-hander Gerrit Cole, according to Bob Klapisch of the New York Times. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand report (Twitter links) that while the team has not yet officially extended the offer, they aren’t far off from doing so.
If signed, the contract would establish a new benchmark for free-agent pitchers, both in terms of overall value and average annual value; Cole’s $245MM over seven years—a $35MM AAV—would surpass David Price’s record $217MM deal with the Red Sox, as well as Zack Greinke’s $34.4MM AAV from the Diamondbacks.
With Cole and representative Scott Boras requesting yesterday that interested teams submit initial offers, the Cole saga is far from over, and there’s a chance that the Yankees’ bid will be one-upped by another suitor, particularly the Dodgers or Angels, who have been named the other favorites to land Cole. If those teams opt to go to an eighth or ninth year, the contract value could exceed $280MM or even $300MM, an unprecedented figure for pitchers. Either way, with the bidding war now underway, one thing’s for sure: if the initial offer is already a record deal, Cole and Boras are certainly sitting pretty.
And though the contract offer is merely that—an offer—the sheer magnitude of the opening bid is indicative of the Yankees’ commitment to go into the spring with this offseason’s crown jewel. With reports suggesting that ownership has authorized a steadfast pursuit of Cole and that the team has halted other business as it focuses entirely on the 29-year-old, there seems to be a heightened sense of urgency surrounding the Yankees’ courtship of Cole, a Steinbrenner trademark that has been absent for several years.
That said, they won’t be without their share of competition. The aforementioned financial powerhouses in Los Angeles—though their interest hasn’t received the same attention as that of New York—no doubt have an appetite for Cole. After seven consecutive division titles that have yet to produce a World Series banner, the Dodgers’ urgency may well rival that of the Yankees. And while record-breaking contracts are decidedly not a hallmark of the Andrew Friedman-run Dodgers, it bears mentioning that their payroll commitments are expected to thin out considerably by 2021 and 2022, affording increased flexibility to take on an obligation of monumental proportions.
The Angels, for their part, haven’t played October baseball since 2014 and have long been rumored a destination for Cole given his SoCal roots. They boast the sport’s finest player in Mike Trout, who is under contract for the next decade-plus and has played just three playoff games through his age-27 season. The last several years of Angels baseball have been defined by a notorious lack of production (and health) in the starting rotation, a department in which forward progress may already be in order for 2020, what with the acquisition of Dylan Bundy and the potential return of Shohei Ohtani, not to mention the addition of reputable pitching coach Mickey Callaway. General manager Billy Eppler, entering the final year of his contract, has limited time to produce a genuine improvement in the win-loss department, and adding Cole may be the perfect splash to improve the franchise’s fortunes.