Yankees Sign Gerrit Cole to Nine-Year, $324 Million Contract

After eleven long years, Gerrit Cole is finally going to wear pinstripes. The Yankees and their white whale have agreed to a nine-year, $324 million deal that includes a no-trade clause and no deferrals. Jon Heyman was first with the news. It is the largest contract ever given to a starting pitcher in MLB history by $107 million and tied with Mike Trout for the highest annual average. I love it so very much.

Cole now sits atop a Yankee rotation that also includes Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka. Cole will singlehandedly turn what was a weakness for the Yankees in 2019 into a major strength for 2020. It’s hard to argue that any team in baseball is more complete than the Yankees right now, honestly.

Cole pitched to a 2.50 ERA (2.64 FIP) with an absurd 40% strikeout rate in 212.2 innings pitched last year for Houston. His 6.9 bWAR would have made him only the third Yankee pitcher in 40 years to compile a total that high. I profiled him in-depth a few weeks ago, and I really don’t have that much more to say about him that I haven’t already. Check that out if you missed it.

Simply put, Cole is a game-changer for New York. No pitcher will become available during the Yankees’ current title run who is better than Cole, so if the front office and Hal Steinbrenner were going to commit nine-years, $324 million to anyone, it should have been Cole. This is a very good day for the Yankees.

The ninth year of the deal is probably a bit surprising to some folks. It marks a major departure for how the Yankees have operated in recent years–and the direction of the league generally–but it does make sense. Cole is a special player and he is exactly what the Yankees needed. And sure, it is true that the 2028 and 2029 seasons may not be the finest of Cole’s career. But you know what? Who the hell cares. What matters now is right now. The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009 and they are now the likely favorites going into 2020. This is the type of move you have to make to get over the hump.

After all, if you’re not willing to go above and beyond on some free agents, you’ll never sign anyone, and I sure am glad to see the Yankees make this huge commitment now, to this player, for this team. Is it Opening Day yet?

UPDATE: the deal includes an opt-out after the 2024 season.

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8 Comments

  1. I was anticipating the Yankees doing exactly this-backing up the Brinks truck and giving Cole whatever it took to sign him.

    This is a great move and instantly puts the Yankees as World Series favorites for the next 3-5 years. A true ‘Ace’ in the rotation was really the only missing piece for this to happen.

  2. Dani

    Love the signing. Of course the contract is gigantic but I don’t care, we got our man.

    It’ll be interesting to see what’ll happen next considering the Yanks right at or even above the 3rd luxury tax tier, some trades might be on the horizon.

  3. MLB is way more fun when the Yankees are spending money and hated by everyone! This is fantastic. Sign Betances, sign Gardner and let’s get the season started

  4. Vindication for Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner. They have been lambasted by the pro-labor media as cheap, and yet just gave out the largest pitcher contract in history – by a wide margin. They weren’t cheap, they were disciplined. If they signed Corbin, Machado or Harper last year this deal doesn’t happen. They waited for the right move and got one of the very few true aces in the game. Exactly the type of player they need to get over the top for a prolonged period. Screw the haters. We have the best front office in sports.

  5. RetroRob

    The Yankees targeted Cole and they weren’t going to be beat. There are points when you go all in, and this is one of those points. The Yankees have a great team. If they’re spending big money it will be on a difference maker. Cole is a difference maker. The latter years could turn ugly, although Cole can certainly remain effective, but that’s not anything to worry about. This is not about years eight and nine. This is about winning the next five years.

  6. dasit

    if the new york post doesn’t have a headline with some variation of “cole in their stockings” i’m rioting

  7. Wire Fan

    I really doubt the other teams were operating in this regime, but who cares as long as it got done. The Yankees needed the full measure, not a half measure – so an overpay is fine.

    While they will likely deal Happ to cut some payroll, I wonder if the Yankees will be over the upper tier LT when all is said and done (Gardy, Dellin/another reliever?, Romine?). But they have plenty of money coming off next year (Ellsbury, Tanaka, Paxton, Gardy again, DJL, whatever Happ money they eat), so Hal and Hank should be able to scrape by a living for a year.

    German (with Monty early on during his suspension?) as a fifth starter is pretty sweet.

  8. Your a Looser Trader FotD

    Atta boys!

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