ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday that general manager Brian Cashman had received "ownership-level approval" to put a record-breaking contract on the table for the American League Cy Young runner-up. David Price's seven-year, $217 million deal remains the biggest for a free-agent pitcher.
Klapisch noted the terms of the Yankees' offer would also vault Cole ahead of Zack Greinke in terms of average salary. Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2015, which averages a little more than $34.4 million annually.
Although free-agent spending has generally trended downward in recent years, teams have been willing to pay top dollar for elite-level stars on the open market.
The Yankees' aggressive approach with Cole shows how desperately they want to sign the 29-year-old right-hander. Passan reported Saturday going on the offensive could be the best strategy:
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
The pace of negotiations for Gerrit Cole is TBD. It could move very fast. It may well hit a snag. A lot depends on the initial offers. But know this: Teams recognize that there is a very strong market and that showing the depth of interest with a strong first offer is favorable.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels were all in the Cole sweepstakes as well; however, he was the "total focus" for the Yankees.
SNY's Andy Martino echoed the report:
The Dodgers have spared no expense in their pursuit of their first World Series title since 1988, while Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million extension with the Angels showed they aren't lacking in financial might either.
Both L.A. franchises can also use the homecoming narrative with Cole, a native of Newport Beach, California, and one-time star pitcher at UCLA.
The Yankees have an obvious need to sign Cole because he'd address what's one of the few holes in the roster.
Combine that with the franchise's seemingly limitless well of cash—Forbes valued the Yankees as the second-most valuable sports franchise in the world ($4.6 billion)—and New York is arguably emerging as the strongest contender to land Cole.