The New York Yankees have offered Gerrit Cole a contract worth more than the record-breaking seven-year, $245 million deal that Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals agreed to Monday, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported last week that signing Cole was the Yankees’ top offseason priority, and that general manager Brian Cashman has ownership-level approval to offer the right-hander a record-setting deal.
Strasburg also has the highest annual average value, eclipsing Zack Greinke‘s $31.5 million. Both records might not last long, however, given the interest in Cole from the Yankees and other teams.
The Yankees’ willingness to play in that financial range signals a shift from recent years, in which they have avoided big-money free-agent signings. Their last nine-figure commitment to a free agent was to pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, on whom they spent $175 million in January 2014; he is entering the final year of his deal.
In December 2017, New York traded for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and assumed $265 million of the $295 million left on his contract.
It wasn’t until a January 2018 trade that Cole unlocked the stuff that has him in the conversation for the best pitcher in baseball. In his first season after being dealt to the Houston Astros, he went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA. This year, at age 29, he was even better: 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA and a major-league-best 326 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings. He finished second in American League Cy Young voting to teammate Justin Verlander.
Over his seven MLB seasons, Cole has a 94-52 record with a 3.22 ERA and 1,336 strikeouts in 1,195 innings — his ratio of 10.062 strikeouts per nine innings ranks sixth among active players and eighth all-time.