Yankees' Brian Cashman Promises 'Championship-Caliber Effort' for Gerrit Cole

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 10, 2019

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman speaks during a news conference before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn't hiding his desire to land free-agent ace Gerrit Cole

"I can just tell you this, we're a strong participant," Cashman told reporters Tuesday during winter meetings in San Diego. "At least from our perspective we are. That's our intent, and it takes time, but I can't guarantee we're going to wind up with the player. I can just guarantee championship-caliber effort on our part." 

Cashman added: "Our focus has been Cole."

Cashman's comments come after ESPN's Jeff Passan reported on Thursday that signing Cole is the Yankees' "clear offseason priority" and that the club has been given "ownership-level approval to offer him a record-setting deal." 

ESPN's Buster Olney updated earlier Tuesday that the Yankees have offered Cole "a contract worth more than the record-breaking seven-year, $245 million deal that Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals agreed to Monday." 

Olney noted that it is unknown what exactly the Yankees have offered Cole. However, speculation poured out Monday on Cole's expected deal following Strasburg's agreement:

Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1

Cole’s final payday is now expected to exceed $300 million — and not by a penny or two. Nine years at $324 million is $36M on avg per year and that is probably not a bad over/under. What Strasburg signed for would move me to take the over on Cole.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Still awed by the Stephen Strasburg deal, which was first reported as done by @JonHeyman. It’s a staggering number — $245M. The question isn’t whether Gerrit Cole gets eight years. That’s a given. Signing him through age 37, like the Nationals did, would take a nine-year deal.

Jack Curry @JackCurryYES

Cashman has landed in San Diego and is expected to make an offer to Cole today. With @JeffPassan saying Strasburg got 7/245 from Nats, have to believe Cole gets 8 years. Yanks saying they will make “very, very competitive offer.”

Cashman would not confirm Tuesday whether New York has formally offered Cole.

The Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers have consistently been linked as other possible suitors for Cole because he grew up in Orange County, California—attending Orange Lutheran High School and UCLA.

Scott Boras, Cole's agent, vaguely commented on how free agency is going to Olney: 

"The Cole negotiations with all clubs are very positive. As you can imagine, they're at the ownership level. Everyone's done a real excellent job in their presentations. Well-thought-out processes by all teams, and I think it's something that's given him some great value choices going forward.

"The Yankees and a lot of the other teams that are involved in this; they were all very prepared and did a great job in communicating with Gerrit and [wife] Amy."

Joel Sherman of the New York Post relayed that the Houston Astros, with whom Cole spent the last two seasons, "appear to be one" of the unnamed teams Boras to which was alluding.

"Houston is contemplating if it should make a late attempt to retain Cole," Sherman reported.

Cole landed with the Astros in a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates in January 2018, though the Yankees had reportedly tried to complete a trade for him at that time as well. New York had previously missed out on Cole, too, when the organization drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft but he opted for UCLA instead.

Cole was excellent in both 2018 and 2019 for Houston, but last season was the best of his career.  

The 29-year-old led MLB with 326 strikeouts and a 13.8 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate. He also led the American League with a 2.50 ERA. He went 20-5, a career-best mark, across 33 regular-season starts.

The three-time All-Star finished second in the AL Cy Young voting to teammate Justin Verlander, and Cole is well on his way to becoming the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.