Gerrit Cole’s Journey to the New York Yankees
The Yankees pursuit of Gerrit Cole started long before this year’s free agency. It started in 2008 while preparing for the upcoming MLB Draft. Cole was in his senior year at Orange Lutheran High School putting up a 0.46 ERA while holding opposing batters to an abysmal .146 average. He also hit a solid .310 at the plate. The kid was clearly going to be a stud and everyone in baseball knew it. This led the Yankees’ General Manager, Brian Cashman, to take a chance on the 18 year old from Orange, California chhosing him in the draft. The pick was a dream come true for Cole who grew up a Yankees fan. There was just one problem, he had committed to pitch at UCLA. After lots of talks with his parents and coaches, Gerrit Cole decided to honor his commitment to go play for the Bruins and he turned down the Yankees’ offer.
Cole only continued to blossom at UCLA. Even today, he is second on UCLA’s strikeout leaders list with 376 over the course of three years. Cole finished each college season with over 100 K’s. He posted a 3.38 ERA during his years. At the end of his junior year at UCLA, he was ranked the best college pitcher according to almost every ranking and draft board. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Cole with the 1st pick in the 2011 draft.
Gerrit Cole then spent two years in the Pittsburgh minor league system before finally making his Major League debut in 2013. Cole was a middle of the rotation guy in 2013 with tons of upside. In his first years, he was consistently hitting 100 strikeouts and not letting his ERA ever go above 3.70. But in 2015, Cole burst onto the scene, winning 19 games, putting up a 2.60 ERA, and recording 202 strikeouts. Cole had established himself not only as the Bucs ace, but as an NL All-Star and Cy Young candidate. Cole struggled a little bit the next two seasons in Pittsburgh and fought off small stints on the DL with shoulder and elbow inflammation. In the next off-season (leading into 2018) the Pirates were looking to deal their ace. For a small market team, they wanted to maximize his value before he became expensive. The two “lesser” seasons may have also contributed to Pittsburgh’s willingness to deal him.
With Gerrit Cole on the block, Brian Cashman again was extremely interested in dealing for the right hander to add to the young Yankees. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s asking price was just a little too high for Cashman to commit. Cashman did not want to get rid of top prospects such as Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier in the deal. Instead of coming to the Yankees, Cole was dealt to the Houston Astros for four of their top prospects.
Gerrit Cole’s stretch in Houston was as dominant as any over the last two years going 35-10 with a 2.62 ERA and a whopping 602 strikeouts! Cole continued to perform in the postseason with his best start being a 7 inning outing in the Bronx in a decisive Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS. He struck out 7 and allowed 0 runs in that game giving the Astros a 2-1 lead in the series.
After suffering a World Series defeat, it was time for Gerrit Cole to leave Houston in hopes of getting paid. Once again there was Brian Cashman trying to acquire Cole once again. This time would be different. Cashman would not be outbid or outworked by any other organization and a few days into the 2019 Winter Meetings, Gerrit Alan Cole was finally a New York Yankee.
Cole and the Yankees tied the knot making his $324 million dollar contract across nine years official. That same kid who watched Luis Gonzalez walk off the Yankees in the 2001 World Series will now be the man trying to guide his childhood team back to the promised land.