The Yankees “total focus” remains on reeling in the winter’s big fish: ace starter Gerrit Cole, per MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman. That Cole is a priority for the Yankees is old news, though Heyman’s characterization certainly seems to stake a higher degree of urgency to the Yankees’ intent.
The nostalgic among us can take this opportunity to think fondly of the Yankees of yore, who routinely targeted their man in free agency with this kind of fervor. It’s been a few years since a free agent made this kind of impression on the Yanks, though they attacked the opportunity to trade for James Paxton last offseason with similar drive.
The urgency isn’t shocking coming off 2019, which proved an interesting campaign in New York. Injuries decimated the roster, but the offense never missed a beat no matter who stepped into the void (hello, Gio Urshela). They coasted to 103 wins and a division title, defeated the Minnesota Twins in the playoffs as they are wont to do, only to see the favor repaid in full by the new powerhouse of the day Houston Astros. The Yankees found themselves booted from the playoffs for the third time in the last five seasons by the Astros, making this pursuit of the ex-Astro Cole feel all the more crazy-eyed. That said, there is rarely a free agent with Cole’s pedigree, and if they’re going to channel the ghost of Steinbrenner and go all-in for a free agent, Cole is a worthy target.
Which is, of course, exactly why interest in the right-hander runs so rampant. As Heyman put it, the Yankees “don’t want to be denied” in their pursuit of Cole, but there is no shortage of contenders, including both LA teams, the Rangers, and the Phillies (who are a little crazy-eyed themselves these days). All five clubs have ample cause to pull out all the stops for Cole – on paper, they’re not alone.