The New York Yankees saw the Washington National’s signing of Stephen Strasburg on Monday and they decided to up the ante and go all in late Tuesday.
The Yankees made a major splash at this year’s Winter Meetings, landing Gerrit Cole with a record-breaking nine-year deal worth a total of $324 million. MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman was the first to report the news just before midnight on the east coast on Tuesday night.
The deal includes an opt-out clause after five years, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Both the total money and the average annual value of $36 million smash the record for a pitcher.
The previous record deal for a pitcher was set just a day prior when the reigning World champion Nationals agreed to a 7-year deal with Strasburg worth a total of $245 million ($35M per year).
The 29-year-old Cole is coming off a remarkable season with the Houston Astros when he went 20-5 with an MLB-leading 326 strikeouts and an American League-best ERA of 2.50. He finished runner-up in the American League Cy Young Award race, falling just behind his Astros’ teammate Justin Verlander.
In adding one of the game’s top starting pitchers, the Yankees finally get their ace that they’ve been so desperately seeking to land for the last few seasons.
Cole will now slot into the top of a solid rotation of starters in the Bronx that include Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery.
The Yankees instantly put themselves at the top of the list of contenders in 2020, as they add a stud starting pitcher to a squad that hit over 300 home runs last season and features one of the league’s best bullpens.
Gerrit Cole Had Historic Winning Streak During His Contract Year
Gerrit Cole cemented himself as a bonified ace during his contract season with the Houston Astros in 2019.
After beginning the season with a mediocre record of 4-5, Cole turned the switch and went on a historic winning streak, going 19-0 in his next 25 starts in the regular season and playoffs.
It was MLB’s longest winning streak in 107 years, dating back to 1912 when the New York Giants’ Rube Marquard began the season 19-0.
Cole’s stunning streak came to an end in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, when the eventual champion Washington Nationals touched him up for five runs on 8 hits in a game the Astros would drop, 5-4.
With the series tied 2-2, Cole rebounded in a critical Game 5 to lead the Astros to a 7-1 win. In what would be his last game on the mound for the Astros, Cole threw seven stellar innings, striking out nine batters, while allowing only one run on three hits. The Nationals would go on to win the series with a come-from-behind, 6-2 win in a decisive Game 7.
Cole finished the 2019 postseason with a 4-1 record and a 1.72 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
Gerrit Cole Grew Up a Yankees Fan and Was Drafted by the Bronx Bombers
The newly-minted richest pitcher in the game grew up a Yankees fan and idolized Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, so it should be a dream come true to be donning the pinstripes for the 6’4 right-hander.
Cole has a brief history with the Yankees, as he was drafted by the organization with the 28th overall pick out of high school back in 2008. The flame-thrower opted to pitch at UCLA and then was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, where he went on to pitch five seasons before joining the Astros in 2018.
Cole grew up in California, so speculation swirled around him possibly ending up in Los Angeles with the Dodgers before he ultimately agreed to come to New York. MLB Network Insider Joel Sherman reported that one of Cole’s friends told the three-time All-Star, “When your primary goal is to win a championship, it doesn’t matter where you sleep.”
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