In terms of big-time free agent moves, it doesn't get bigger than the New York Yankees new deal with sought-after pitcher Gerrit Cole. On Tuesday, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Yankees and Cole were agreeing to a record nine-year, $324 million deal.
Cole to Yankees for nine years and $324 million— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
Cole was dominant in 2019, finishing with a 20-5 record and a 2.50 ERA. The wins, losses and ERA were all career-bests for Cole. He continued his dominance in the playoffs, where he pitched 36 2/3 innings, going 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA. He beat the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, throwing seven scoreless innings against the team that led MLB in runs last season. Cole's 326 strikeouts in 2019 made him the Astros' single-season leader, adding even more mystique to a year that felt like something out of a movie.
Despite the dominant season for Cole, he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting to Astros teammate Justin Verlander. Cole now joins another staff that has a chance to become elite, as the Yankees' rotation already includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and Domingo German.
Cole is likely to be in the Bronx for the long haul, though he does have an early opt-out clause.
Gerrit Cole has an opt-out clause after the fifth year of his deal with the New York Yankees, a source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
The Yankees rode their great offense all the way to a Game 6 in the ALCS, despite their pitching ranking a ho-hum 14th in the league in ERA (4.31). With Cole now in tow, there is reason to believe that the 'Evil Empire' is truly back.
And while the Cubs and White Sox were not considered to be in the running for Cole's services, his signing impacts the other top pitchers on the free-agent market, some of whom have been linked to Chicago. This list includes Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.