The Yankees have already met this offseason with the top free agent available, Cy Young-caliber right-hander Gerrit Cole. It sounds as if their powwow went well, as the Yankees have a Cole signing atop their list of offseason priorities, Jeff Passan of ESPN reports. While the luxury tax has frequently been an issue for the Yankees since Hal Steinbrenner assumed ownership several years ago, it doesn’t look as if it’ll impede a potential Cole signing. The Yankees “have ownership-level approval to offer him a record-setting deal,” Passan writes.
Along with the Yankees, the Angels – who have been regarded as the favorite to sign Cole – as well as the Dodgers may be lining up for a Cole bidding war, suggests Passan. Offers haven’t come in yet, but the Yankees’ involvement could be an enormous boon for Cole. Even if he doesn’t sign with them, the financially powerful franchise has the money to further drive up bidding for Cole, who’s essentially a shoo-in to ink a contract worth far more than the record pact David Price signed with the Red Sox entering 2016 (seven years, $217MM).
The Yankees haven’t handed out a nine-figure contract in free agency since they added righty Masahiro Tanaka on a seven-year, $155MM payday going into 2014. However, the franchise clearly loves Cole, as it selected him in the first round of the 2008 draft (Cole went to UCLA instead, later becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the Pirates) and tried to trade for him a couple years ago. But the Astros outbid the Yankees for Cole before the 2018 season, and Houston eliminated New York from this fall’s ALCS with Cole’s help. The Yankees, however, have clearly seen enough of Cole dominating in other uniforms, and they look ready to strike now that he’s available in free agency.
The Yankees sent a notable contingent to meet with Cole and agent Scott Boras this week, per Passan, who names general manager Brian Cashman, skipper Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake and franchise icon Andy Pettitte as those who sat down with him. In the event the Yankees lose out on Cole, though, they haven’t ruled out going after longtime National and reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, the No. 2 starter on the market. The Yankees have also met with Strasburg, another Boras client.