Special Post – The SSTN Writers React to the Gerrit Cole Signing!
Paul Semendinger – Holy Cow! I am blown away. Wow! I woke up this morning to find that the Yankees are once again THE YANKEES! This was like the days gone by, with the Yankees targeting their player and getting him. And boy did they get him. Just last night, hours before the signing, I discussed this with E.J. Fagan on the Bronx Beat Podcast. I was reluctant to go much more than $300 million dollars. Even me, the guy who wants the Yankees to get every great player, felt that this contract was getting extremely expensive – especially for the Yankees. I am in shock that they went to nine years and for so much money. Amazing. I hope Cole is worth every single dollar – and then some. I am thrilled he’s a Yankee. Now, let’s keep him healthy and have him help get some World Series championships in the Bronx. The Yankees just became the favorites to win it all. I love when the Yankees make it so exciting! I love it! (Now if only they had Bryce Harper too! I’m kidding, I’m kidding!!!)
Matthew Cohen – The Yankees are likely favorites to win it all next year. On the other hand I was so excited to be almost out from under the last dumb contract (Ellsbury) and here we go again. I hope that Cole can figure out how to pitch with the diminished velocity he will see within 4-5 years. If he can’t this is going to be an unpleasant denouement.
Ethan Semendinger – Yesterday was an extremely busy day for me (as has this week with my final exams) and after waking up around 6:00 AM and was out the entire day until I ended up crashing ‘early’ at 11:00 PM when I got to my room. I ended up waking up at around 4:00 AM to see that my phone had blown up with news, including from a friend from college who said, “I have to give it to you, you predicted it almost exactly”. I had no idea what happened or what he was talking about, and then I saw it: 9 Years. $326,000,000. And, Gerrit Cole was a Yankee. I watched a ton of coverage about this news afterwards trying to catch up with everything I missed, and have some very quick conclusions: (1) The Yankees are the favorites to win in 2020 right now. (2) This move alone makes every pitcher on the Yankees that much better with how they each move down a rotation spot. (3) J.A. Happ is a goner.
This deal gives so much to talk about over the next weeks, months, and years. I want to spend the next few days analyzing everything about this deal, but, alas, I have finals. UGGGG. Thankfully, this will power me through.
Derek McAdam: I had a strange feeling yesterday that Cole would commit to a team by the end of the day… and right before midnight it happened. The Yanks went all out and they have now stacked their rotation for the 2020 season. I am psyched to see what is in store for the 2020 season and beyond! GO YANKS!!!
Tamar Chalker: I was hoping the Yankees would land Cole and it certainly seemed like they would over the last couple days. I do wonder how much of the price came from the Yankees not wanting to lose out on him yet again, but honestly, I don’t care about the price. I am excited to see him in pinstripes, though I suspect Hal will be upset at anything short of a WS Championship next year after shelling out that money!
Jacob Gaba: Put simply, the Yankees should be the favorites to win the World Series in 2020.
Mike Whiteman: This is exactly the move the Yankees needed to do after the 100+ win seasons and playoff losses 2018 and 2019.
Now, using CC Sabathia’s contract as the closest thing to a recent precedent as we have, this contract may weigh significantly on the team by about year five or six, but Cashman and the Steinbrenners have added a crucial piece to compliment the maturing core and push the team to the next level over the next few seasons. This is what the team has been building for since 2016.
Lincoln Mitchell: The strange things about free agent signings over the last several years is that fans of the team that lands the star player are never altogether happy about it. The Cole signing does not seem like an exception. The problem stems from the structure how how players are compensated and how the salary cap works. Nobody who understands baseball thinks Cole will still be an ace during the last four years of the contract, so the Yankees are really spreading five years, at best, of ace performance over nine years of a contract. However, a more rational deal say seven years $300 million would be better for Cole and for the Yankees, but would have incurred bigger salary cap penalties. From the baseball perspective, the Yankees went into the offseason needing an ace and now they have one. They are now a much better postseason team going into the post season. The irony of spending money in baseball is that once you are in, you might as well be all in. The biggest mistake the Yankees can make now is to think that adding Cole is enough to win the World Series. They also need to find a left handed bat that can play either first or DH and make some other moves because, ironically, despite all the injuries, a lot of things went right for the Yankees in 2019 that might go differently in 2020.
Ed Botti: With the Yankees having drafted Gerrit Cole in 2008, only to see him go to UCLA, and then attempt to trade for him in January of 2018, only to fall short of the Houston Astros offer to the Pirates, it is no surprise that they wanted him now that he is a free agent. What is surprising to me is the term of the contact and the average annual salary of $36MM. Essentially, he is paid over $1MM per start, and to me that is crazy. But the market was set by the Stephen Strasburg 7 year, $245MM deal that Scott Boros negotiated with The Nationals.
Cole is 2 years younger, so he got 2 more years added on, he’s a better pitcher, so he got an average annual salary of $36MM vs $35MM that Strasburg got. What worries me is when you include the insane money Brian Cashman agreed to assume in the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Cole money, how are they going to react when Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres, and the other young players have enough time in the big leagues to be rewarded long term contracts?
History shows that for the most part, Cashman has devalued his own players, and in many cases over valued outside free agents. How that plays out is still to be determined, but it is cause for concern. It just seems a little odd to me that he found $325MM for Cole but could not find enough to keep Didi Gregorius, who will be sorely missed on this team, which is now almost completely right handed. I hope he has more cards up his sleeve, because they need to address the bullpen and add lefty hitters to this line up. It’s just very hard to understand why, when you play 81 games in the Bronx, the lineup is so right-handed. Makes no sense.
So, Cole will be an enormous addition to the pitching staff, but keep in mind, he does have a 3.22 career ERA, but it was 2.60 over the last 2 seasons or 412 innings. I like that. As with most long term contracts, the real value to the team is in the front end, and then the teams have to pay top dollar on the back end for average performance. I hope am wrong about that in this case, but we won’t know for at least 5 more years.