Gerrit Cole And His Challenge Of The Yankees Resolve

We feel the same way Gerrit.

Over the last couple of offseasons, the Yankees free agency strategy has been clear. They were going to spend money on their terms. Their analytics staff shrewdly assigned a financial value to an “asset” and the front office didn’t budge from that valuation. They were so confident in their process that they’ve told some of the sport’s elite free agents to take their offer or leave it. The team didn’t believe any of the recent free agents were either the right player or available at the right time to justify a mega contract. This was a process that many Yankees fans (including myself last year) took issue with, but those were the rules the Yankees lived by.

Gerrit Cole is the exception to the rule.

He is so damn good that he forces even the smartest of teams to throw caution to the wind. The recent reporting by Jeff Passan tells us that the Yankees are ready to offer the ace pitcher a record setting deal. Cole has been the chosen one in the Yankees eyes ever since they drafted him back in 2008 out of high school. He was the chosen one when they were close to trading for him in the winter of 2017. Gerrit Cole is the one player who stirs up the old Yankees DNA and it appears they’re determined to claim the market’s top prize.

The team’s pursuit of the number one free agent comes as a surprise to many Yankees fans. After all, the team has passed on Max Scherzer, David Price, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin to name a few. We believed Plan 189 was a long term strategy with an end goal of going on a historical shopping spree at baseball’s version of Nieman Marcus in the winter of 2018. Instead, the team went to Woodbury Commons and picked up some nice deals. They brought in some key contributors, but none of the new additions satisfied our craving for a big name.

Gerrit brazenly challenges the Yankee paradigm. Cole is the ultimate test of the Yankees’ resolve to be measured in their decision making. He is both a throwback player and a darling of the analytics age. He is a hard throwing, ultra competitor like Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, who will also grill an organization on how they synthesize data and present it to the players. Gerrit Cole is in many ways the perfect Yankee pitcher. He embodies exactly what they desire, but more importantly, demands a return to their Steinbrenner roots. It appears Gerrit is playing the game on his terms and the Yankees are finally acquiescing.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. I understand the skepticism, but you can never truly escape your core identity. The Yankees will always be a big game hunter. They are certainly more measured in their approach, but they will always be the big dog in the yard. They’ve found their target and now it’s time to seal the deal.


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  1. MikeD

    Agreed overall on your point, although it’s possible that signing the big fish is part of the Yankees planning. It used to be year by year, but I suspect the Yankees and all smart teams are doing longer term planning, looking at their roster, their organization, and who’s expected to hit free agency. They passed on Harper because they brought in Stanton the year prior and were looking toward signing Cole. They’re selecting which big fish to acquire. They can’t add everyone (and I know you didn’t say that) because the $248 million luxury tax level will be debilitating is they’re consistently above it and they have to plan to sign other players, including their own.

    Anyway. Good stuff. Enjoying reading the content here.

  2. Ydoodle

    Did anybody catch the Woodbury Commons reference? Unless you are from Northern NJ & upstate NY, nobody knows what you are talking about. ?

    • Randy

      It’s weird that this thing called Google could explain it if people really want to know. Pretty amazing.

    • Randy

      And thank you for reading. I appreciate it.

    • MikeD

      You don’t need to know. Juxtaposing Woodbury Commons with Neiman Marcus provides all the information the reader needs.

  3. I tried last week to tell the braves they should just sign cole strasburg and donaldson and then they could start a 14 year run of winning world series

  4. Mungo

    It’s possible that pursuing Cole at near all costs is supported by the Yankees analytics. An elite-level ace comes on to the market rarely, and while still in his 20s. He’s the best starter to hit free agency since Scherzer, and he’s better than Scherzer was then. It’s quite possible he’s the best starter to hit free agency ever. Intersect that with where the Yankees are in their window, and analytics may spit out: Sign him!

  5. Chuck Buehler

    I think if they are sincere and they go through with this and sign Cole it will have a wide ranging impact. It will win over so many fans to conclude the Yanks are now smart and still financially powerful. It will reassure the whole fanbase that they didn’t get Harper, Machado, and Corbin because they knew they weren’t worth the price and so they didn’t really want them, but when they DO want someone, they will still use their financial might to get them. It will buy the front office the benefit of the doubt for years to come. Also, it should make other teams take notice; the Yankees aren’t passing on these other guys because they don’t want to spend, they are passing on them because they know something we don’t.

    • Randy

      I think this notion of equating not signing a guy like Harper with signing Cole is false logic. They could’ve done both. Those players you mentioned are damned good. Corbin earned himself a nice WS ring this season while the Yankees watched him on TV. Apparently, the Nats knew something the Yankees didn’t.

      • DJ Lemeddardhieu

        I agree, Randy. I’m tired of this narrative that “The Yankees know what they’re doing.” No they don’t. These other clubs like the Sox, Astros and Nats know what they’re doing. They know something we don’t and that’s why they’re winning. People like to use revisionist history and say well Verlander wasn’t that good on the Tigers so the Astros got lucky. No, they knew what they were doing and it’s cost us at least 2 WS rings. And now it’s well the Nats overpaid for Corbin and the Yankees knew what they were doing. How about signing a Corbin and a Cole and not signing that awful Happ or the worthless Ellsbury? We know nothing.

      • Chuck Buehler

        They can’t sign the best free agent every year. Times are different now. Some fans would have had them add Verlander, and sign all three of Harper, Machado, and Corbin, and then still expect them to go after Cole this year. They think the Yanks should add the best player available whenever he is available, and that’s just not realistic. I think they F’d up when they didn’t pony up for Moncada and when they let Verlander go to HOU, but other than those two moves, I think everything else has been justifiable. If they sign Cole, I will give them credit for not spending in the past for the right reasons, if they still don’t use their might to bring in Cole, then I am all on board the Hal is cheap train.

        • Randy

          I’m not saying sign every big free agent. That is counterproductive. Times are different only in the sense that the CBA allows owners to keep more money without much fight from the players. They ended up being right about Moncada. Gleyber is what they thought Moncada would be and Torres is a superior player. Verlander also took it up a notch and sustained it because of Astros voodoo or whatever the hell is going on there. It is perfectly reasonable for fans to ask for more action on the upper ends of the free agent spectrum from time to time. And again, signing Cole isn’t totally related to not signing guys in the past. They could’ve done both and be perfectly fine financially.

  6. Gerrit Cole isn’t the exception to the rule. The Yankees have valued him, as an asset, to be worth a record setting offer. That isn’t throwing caution to the wind. It’s calculated and smart. The entire team has been built this way and they have done a damned good job building it. If someone else offers more than what they have valued him at (hopefully not), then they will let him go too – as they should.

    Like it or not there’s a budget. If they committed to Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, or even Patrick Corbin last year they would not be in a position to possibly sign Cole now. Nobody can justify giving Harper $330 million. THAT’s throwing caution to the wind given his recent level of play. Machado might have been worth what the Padres paid him, but he didn’t meet a need for the Yankees. They had Andujar heading into last year. DJL at $24 million over 2 years to provide infield depth was clearly the better option. And the Nationals way overpaid for Corbin, who didn’t meet the ace profile the Yankees needed anyway.

    Very glad Cashman kept his powder dry. Now he might land an actual true ace in his prime.

    • Randy

      They haven’t signed a superstar to a major free agent contract since 2009. If they do that with Cole it would absolutely be an exception to the rule. They just don’t do it much. And it was possible for them to sign Harper last year and have money for Cole this year. There is plenty of money to go around. And sure, there is a budget. That doesn’t mean the budget has to be where it is. We have to stop defending this notion that baseball owners are on some fixed income. They’re in pretty good financial shape.

      • RetroRob

        An argument can be made that Tanaka was the top free agent the year he signed and very much a superstar.

      • Ellsbury was treated like a superstar signing – lol. Stanton, while not a free agent signing, was very similar to one. Just a big salary dump for a superstar.

        The baseball media has really been selling this notion that it would improve the sport if the appetite for free agents increased. It’s absurd. There are X amount of major league caliber players. They would all be playing major league baseball if salaries were half what they are now.
        They would all be playing if salaries were double what they are now. In essence, what they are paid has no impact on who is playing, and by extension, the quality of the sport.

        There is, however, one circumstance where increased demand for free agents can change the quality of the on field product. If it’s just one or two teams that are breaking the bank it can drastically change the way the players are distributed. Like for instance, what if the Yankees signed Cole, Strasburg, Rendon, Wheeler, and anyone else that was any good? Would that actually be good for the sport? Clearly not. I can understand why a Yankee fan would root for it. But at the same time, you can’t go and say that’s actually a good thing.

        So basically, increased free agent spending can either have no real impact on the sport, or have a negative impact. The real reason the baseball media is pushing it so hard is because much of the media has a pro-labor political bent.

  7. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result and that’s why I’ve the sanest person here, Randy. Because I recognize that what this FO is doing just isn’t working. The focus on offense and neglect of pitching during the mid 2000s led to many postseason disappointments. The new focus on bullpen the past couple years and neglect of starting pitching has led to the same result.

    What are the lessons from 2009? Signing a big FA ace and another quality starter led to a WS. Not adding to them from 2010-2019 has led to loss after loss after loss as other clubs pick up these starters and win championships. Even going back to the late 90’s the lineup and Mariano get most of the credit but the backbone of the club was Cone, El Duque, Wells, Rocket and Andy. Those guys weren’t pulled after 4 innings of shutout ball ever. Joe Torre didn’t tell Stanton, Lloyd and Nelson that we’d need to get 6 innings from them because Rocket Clemens was only going to throw 3 that day.

    Davey Martinez didn’t say to Max Scherzer, give me a solid 3 innings and then I’m going to bring in Doolittle. Max was expected to give 7+ and he did. That’s what we’ve been missing since CC fell of a cliff and they’ve never replaced it. Tanaka gives us that occasionally but not consistently and in the postseason he could be throwing a perfect game and Boone would take him out. Same with Paxton. A rotation of Cole, Sevy, Tanaka and Paxton is a WS winning rotation. Take out Cole and put in Happ or Montgomery and it’s not even close.

    • Rick

      The Jay’s with the power house of young talent will land Cole wait and see ?

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