Bottom of the 9th inning in Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series. A tie game, with a runner on first, and Jose Altuve at the plate. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman threw a 2-1 pitch that Altuve ripped into left-center over the wall, sending the Houston Astros to the 2019 World Series to face the Washington Nationals. From the very second that Altuve crossed the plate, the Yankees had one goal, and one goal only.
Get. Gerrit. Cole.
So with an “any means necessary” attitude, Brian Cashman flew to California to meet with the former Houston Astro before the Winter Meetings. Cashman didn’t go alone, however, as he brought Yankees skipper Aaron Boone, new Yankee pitching coach Matt Blake and one of the best postseason pitchers ever, one Andrew Eugene Pettitte.
Pettitte was actually one of Cole’s favorite players growing up, and like Cole, Pettitte spent some time with the Houston Astros. Pettitte told Cole about his own experiences in New York, and according to super-agent Scott Boras, that is what swayed Cole to go the New York. Well…that and maybe another 324,000,000 reasons.
So the Yankees did all they could right? They met with Cole in his home, they brought his favorite player to his doorstep and showed him how wonderful New York is, right? All that’s left to do is send the offer and sign on the dotted line. The Yankees first offered Cole a 7-year deal worth $245M, and many thought that would be the deal that Cole took. But then…Stephen Strasburg got paid.
The Washington Nationals resigned their ace Strasburg to that same 7-year, $245M deal, the largest deal for a pitcher in MLB history. And once the news broke, I think everybody in the baseball world knew Cole would get more. So the Yankees, not willing to be defeated, upped the ante. Instead of offering Cole $35M a year for 7 years, they increased the years to 9, and the salary to $324M which equals $36M a year, a $1M a year difference. The deal also included an opt-out close in year 5 of the deal, and a no-trade clause. It was no surprise that Cole accepted the new largest deal for a pitcher in MLB history.
So Gerrit Cole is in pinstripes. The “Evil Empire” is back and people hate the Yankees again (I guess they never stopped). But the Yankees needed to get Cole. The Yankees have remained quiet in free agency for a good 4 years, building their roster through their farm system and by trades. Last year, former Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin was targeted by the Yankees, however, the team wanted Corbin for 5 years, not the 6 years he eventually got from the eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals.
Then, as the year progressed and the trade deadline neared, many Yankee fans were critical of GM Brian Cashman for not going out and trading for a frontline starter, despite Cashman’s claim that the Yankees made the right move.
“I feel comfortable with walking away from everything that was in front of me because those weren’t real opportunities as far as my conversations were going. The fallback is to look in that room at the players we have and feel really good about those guys.”Brian Cashman on Yankees being silent at trade deadline
So when you add all that up, you get the simple fact that it was Cole or bust for the Bronx Bombers. The fans would be up in arms if they didn’t get Cole, and the starting rotation would have a hole in the #1 starter position that it’s had for quite some time now. Gerrit Cole brings his dominance to New York in an effort to win the Yankees their 28th World Series, and their first in over 10 years. He’s got 9 years to do it and a lot of money to count in the meantime.
Featured Photo: Mike Rosa/GCSN
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