Teams around Major League Baseball are preparing to make contract offers to free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole, with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels viewed as the favorites, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Passan noted there is no timetable for the Cole sweepstakes to conclude.
Cole met with the Yankees on Tuesday, and per Passan, ownership has given the go-ahead to make a record-setting offer to the right-hander. Jon Heyman of MLB Network noted Saturday that New York's "total focus" is on Cole:
New York has long been enamored with Cole. The Yankees selected the pitcher in the first round of the 2008 draft, only for Cole to forgo professional baseball in favor of UCLA. The team made a run at Cole following the 2017 season, only for the Pittsburgh Pirates to trade him to the Houston Astros.
Cole is coming off his best season, one that earned him a second-place finish in the 2019 American League Cy Young Award voting. He went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, recording an MLB-high 326 strikeouts in a career-high 212.2 innings.
He went 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA over a 25-start stretch, including the postseason, from May 27 to Oct. 15. Cole capped his incredible run with seven shutout innings at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series:
Cole and the Astros eliminated the Yankees in six games before falling to the Washington Nationals in the World Series.
Though New York appears to be all-in on Cole, the two Los Angeles clubs have been viewed as serious threats to land the Southern California native. However, according to Heyman, "Cole assured the Yankees he has 'no West Coast bias.'"