The Tuesday Discussion: Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg
We asked our writers:
You can only sign one or the other – who do you get?
Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole
Patrick Gunn – These are two fantastic pitchers, and recent events would make most lean towards Strasburg. However, I would go with Cole for several reasons. In terms of statistics, both pitchers have had strong careers, with strikeout rates about 10 per nine innings, walk rates of exactly 2.4 per nine, and solid home run rates. That being said, while Strasburg has plateaued (at great numbers I will add), Cole has only gotten better, seeing his strikeout rate increase from 8.7 per nine in 2017 to 13.8 last year. Given his age, 29, Cole could realistically get even better if he takes what he’s learned with the Astros into a new team. Meanwhile, Strasburg is 31, which is only two years older but two massive years. Being over the age of 30 going into free agency adds much more risk to a player’s status given the lengthy contracts that both pitchers would command. Even in his prime years Strasburg has yet to prove that he can consistently stay healthy. In his ten year career, Strasburg has made at least 30 starts three times. Last season, Strasburg through at least 30 starts for the first time since 2014. Cole, on the other hand, has made at least 30 starts in four of his seven years, including each of the last three. Strasburg had a fantastic year, but he has yet to consistently prove that he can stay healthy, and who knows how his arm will hold up after throwing 36 and a third innings last season. Cole, while facing several injuries in his early career, has proven that he can stay on the field for an entire season. Both pitchers are fantastic and would improve any team in the short term, but if I could only sign one, I would put my money on Gerrit Cole.
Derek McAdam – If I had to make a decision on whether to sign Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, Cole would be the answer. The biggest question mark for Strasburg is if he continues to be as injury prone as he is, and a history of injuries is the last thing the Yankees need. Age is another big indicator for Strasburg, as he will turn 32 in July, whereas Cole will not turn 30 until September. Signing Cole would also mean that the Yanks are taking away a starter from their biggest challenge in the American League. There is no doubt in my mind that Strasburg would be a big contributor to the starting rotation, and I would not be opposed to this signing. For the long term, I believe that Cole would help the Yankees for several more years than Strasburg could.
Lincoln Mitchell – I do not have any special insight about the health of Cole or Strasburg so am just going on public information. My view is that the Yankees must get one of these pitchers, but it matters less which one. They cannot go into another postseason with a questionable Severino as their ace. The Yankees should pursue both because, but if they have to choose one it should be determined by who is willing to sign a shorter contract. Strasburg has the better overall ouvre, but Cole is younger and may have a bigger upside. Money should not be the issue for the Yankees, but length of contract will be. Both of these pitchers will want seven or more years and both are unlikely to be great pitcher after 2023. Having said all that, if the contracts in play were equal, I would take Cole.
Jacob Gaba – For me, I’d love to have either of these guys if I were Brian Cashman. Simply, though, Gerrit Cole is the better pitcher. He also hasn’t dealt with the same injury issues that Strasburg has, and may last longer as a result (because getting either one of these guys would require a long term deal). This isn’t an easy decision by any means, but based on the stats and injury history, there’s no way you can’t go with Cole if you were choosing between the two.
Paul Semendinger – I would sign Gerrit Cole. I believe that his durability is better than Strasburg’s. It is my hope that Cole is entering a period where he’ll be dominant for five to six years. I do not think Strasburg will still be a top of the line pitcher in five or six years. I believe Cole will be.