For the pitcher that has put together his best season in his career and one of the best seasons for a starting pitcher in the history of baseball, Gerrit Cole has got to be looking directly at how many Brinks trucks teams will be willing to back up to his house this winter. Playing on a grossly-underpaid $13.5 million deal with the Houston Astros this season, any sort of deal for Cole will most likely flip the first two digits of his 2019 salary to form his 2020 salary.
While the best pitcher in the league, not all teams will be able to add someone as dominant as Cole to their team due to his high price tag. As a Scott Boras client, Cole will not skimp on by in terms of his contract, which is exactly what other teams did not want to hear.
With most high-payroll franchises in need of starting pitching, here are four teams that will most likely be in on Cole this offseason and will need to clear a bunch of payroll space in order to sign him long term.
While they look to already be capped out in terms of new money, bringing Gerrit Cole back into the fold may be the lone exception. Pairing Cole with Justin Verlander makes for one of the deadliest 1-2 punches in the league, regardless of how they fill out spots 3-5.
Giving big-time money to a starting pitcher is always tough, especially because injuries can easily derail a pitcher’s career early on in the contract, leading to a failed investment that cost the team hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone to better use.
In his post-game interview after the Astros fell to the Washington Nationals in the World Series, his feelings towards the Houston organization seemed to be cold, almost like he was thinking that his time was over here. That remains to be seen, but as long as Houston has not completely ruled it out, they are one of the leading favorites for cole.
Whenever money talks, the New York Yankees are there to answer the call. Things are no different with Cole now, especially with the fact that the Yankees are in need of a shutdown ace.
Being able to outbid most all other teams for any player that they want is both a luxury and a curse, one that tends to produce mixed results. But for pitchers, the Yankees do seem to have an unhealthy affinity to throwing all the money at them, and then some.
Gerrit Cole would immediately push this team back to favorite in the American League, provided he stays healthy and dominant like he currently is. With no signs pointing to either of those things happening changing, the odds of Cole wearing pinstripes next year look to be quite good, which also is bad news for all other teams in the league.
Money has always been the biggest and best bargaining chip that the Yankees have been able to bring to the table, and this winter should prove to be no different. This winter has the makings of another big-spending offseason, which would help make the last offseason an anomaly.
Mentioned in the running for Stephen Strasburg as well, the Los Angeles Angels present a really interesting opportunity that makes a ton of sense. Having shown a willingness to spend big for big names (Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani), Cole fits that bill perfectly and would be a perfect addition to the Mike Trout-run team.
Cole attended UCLA for college, which could also help in his willingness to go back out west. The Angels, who are desperate to add some firepower to help pair with Trout, Pujols, and Ohtani, would immediately welcome Cole into their starting rotation, and he would be a great power arm to pair with Ohtani.
As hesitant as the Angels have been in the past in terms of going out and getting Trout all of the help that he needs, Cole presents the perfect opportunity to make good on Trout’s long-term deal that he just signed. With a decent amount of money to spend, Cole and the Angels look to be a great combination waiting to happen.
Wild Card – Atlanta Braves
And here is where we enter in a non-money driven team – the Atlanta Braves are exactly where Cole could go and absolutely dominate, especially with them being in the National League. Going back to his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Astros, Cole came into his own before switching leagues and dominating, so it is only right that he can come back and haunt his old team more often than when he was in the AL.
The Braves have locked up their core on team-friendly deals to keep the costs low, and while third baseman Josh Donaldson is a big-time free agent that will require the team to shell out big bucks, they could still stand to add someone like Cole to help hold down their rotation. Not known for giving out big contracts, no better time than now to take advantage of this offseason and make that move.
Imagine the core of Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Donaldson (if resigned), and Gerrit Cole – watch out NL, cause the Braves look to be forming a core that may be unmatched for the next five-plus seasons.