SNY's Andy Martino speculated Tuesday that the Angels "are ready to go bonkers for him and spend whatever it takes" as part of a larger report on where the New York Yankees stand within the Cole sweepstakes:
Cole is hitting free agency after a record-setting 2019 campaign with the Houston Astros. The 29-year-old led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while leading all of MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
ESPN's Jesse Rogers polled 15 MLB executives and insiders as to whether Cole will secure a $300 million contract, with nine saying he will get "close but under" and six saying "no chance." More from Rogers:
"Cole had one of the best free-agent seasons in recent memory, perhaps among the best of all time, as one executive put it. Will he be as good on another team not named the Astros?
"The fact that no one polled thought he would get $300 million is less about him having only two out-of-this world seasons under his belt and more about the nature of giving a pitcher that kind of deal. Besides, he doesn't need to reach the $300 million figure to set a record for a pitcher. That belongs to David Price at $217 million.
"Everyone polled believes he'll still blow that number away, and most predicted it'll happen in a deal with the Angels."
Cole's perceived preference for the Angels comes from the fact he grew up in Newport Beach, California, and attended Orange Lutheran High School. As for Cole's link to New York, the Yankees drafted him in the first round of the 2008 MLB June amateur draft out of Orange Lutheran. He declined to sign with the Yankees and instead pitched collegiately at UCLA, another link to his West Coast roots.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Cole first overall in 2011. He debuted for the club in 2013 and played in Pittsburgh until signing with Houston ahead of the 2018 season. Overall, Cole has gone 94-52 with a 3.22 ERA and 1,336 strikeouts across 192 starts.
Cole's set career-best marks last season in wins (20), ERA (2.50), strikeouts (326), WHIP (0.90) and more. That has given him plenty of momentum entering a free-agency pitching market that includes the likes of reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and three-time World Series champion Madison Bumgarner.