Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.
Gerrit Cole, RH SP, Astros
2019 salary: $13,500,000
2019 stats: 212.1 IP, 2.50 ERA, 326 K, 48 BB, 142 hits (29 HR)
What Cole would bring to the White Sox
Cole was solid in five seasons with the Pirates, but has taken off as one of the best pitchers in baseball since joining the Astros. In two seasons with Houston, Cole had a 2.68 ERA with a whopping 602 strikeouts in 412.2 innings. He finished top five in Cy Young voting both years, including a runner-up finish in 2019 after leading all of baseball in strikeouts with 326.
If Cole were to join the White Sox rotation, they'd suddenly have a dynamic one-two punch that would rival any in baseball with Cole and Lucas Giolito. If Michael Kopech develops as the White Sox hope and expect, they have a top three that would be feared in the postseason. Signing him would immediately boost expectations on the South Side and end the rebuild in one swipe of a pen.
What it would take to get him
A lot of money. It would take a lot of money for the White Sox to sign Cole.
This is the part where it becomes easy to be skeptical that the White Sox have a shot at Cole. They've been connected to Cole in rumors, but nothing beyond the fact that it would make sense for them to make a push for Cole.
The reality is Cole is likely to become the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. That means more than Clayton Kershaw ($31 million per year), Max Scherzer ($30 million per year) and even more than Zack Greinke ($34.4 million per year). It's also likely to be a long-term deal that could be more than six years.
Why it's unlikely for the White Sox
Would the White Sox give that contract out? Even if you think Cole is worth it, the White Sox have no track record of spending that kind of money and certainly not to pitchers.
Last season the White Sox were heavily involved in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado talks, but came up short. The Yankees are said to be involved in chasing Cole so the price is likely to be at the high end of what Cole can get.
If the Yankees don't land Cole, there's the fact that he is from California and rumors have been that he wants to go back home. The Angels have shown they are willing to give out massive contracts. If there's a tie between contract offers, the team from California might get the edge.
It's a nice dream for White Sox fans, but there's too much evidence to believe it's realistic at this point.
The Yankees want Gerrit Cole more than they've wanted a top free agent in years. Here's how they're managing the balancing act of free agency.https://t.co/l4wWgMKdYX— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 3, 2019
Cole and Strasburg sweepstakes intensifying as pitchers meet with Yankees, other teams: https://t.co/yYgwggoOIO— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2019
Dodgers are looking at Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. But while they can afford to go big, word is they have set valuations for each star and intend to remain disciplined.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 25, 2019
There is a general industry perception that Gerrit Cole prefers the west coast, but the Yankees don’t have any specific information from the agent or player to indicate he would choose California over Bronx. They’re still in.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 26, 2019