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Where will Gerrit Cole be in 2020?

Oct. 30, 2019 - Michael Stewart

Where will Gerrit Cole be in 2020?

Introduction: Gerrit Cole will arguably be the most sort after starting pitcher in the upcoming free agent market in MLB.  Cole is the leading candidate to earn the Cy Young award in the American League by going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA/326 K’s and a astounding WHIP of 0.895. According to Spotrac, Cole’s market value would be at $32.9M per year and at 29 years old, could be seeking a deal of 6 years/$198M. Now there are not many teams that can afford Cole and commit for his services, so let’s take a look at my top 5 teams that could make a strong effort to sign Gerrit Cole.

  1. Houston Astros: Giving the Astros first crack here to re-sign Cole, however; the numbers just don’t add up.  The Astros will have two pitchers making over $30M in 2020 (Justin Verlander at $33M/Zack Greinke at $32M). Now the only feasible way the Astros could re-sign Cole is to trade either Verlander or Greinke; which would be difficult based on their respective ages of 37 & 36. The Astros are already over the tax threshold by $758K and would need to be very creative to not pay so much over the threshold, but first they have to convince Cole to return.
  2. New York Yankees: The Yankees seem to be a logical choice here despite finishing with over 100 wins, their Achilles heal was clearly their starting pitching against Houston in the AL Championship series.  The Yankees will have some money coming off the books with expiring contracts/trade rumors and could be in a solid position to make a pitch for Cole. Acquiring Cole would certainly shift the balance of power even more towards the Yankees; while weakening the Astros pitching staff.
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers could have a clear advantage in signing Cole as he is from the west coast and playing his college ball at UCLA. The Dodgers already feature a solid team, but getting oust by the Washington Nationals in the NL championship series could give them a reason to pursue Cole. With Clayton Kershaw as the team’s ace and having a $31M annual contract, the Dodgers could elect to not bring back some players hitting free agency such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Russell Martin, Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen (freeing up nearly $74.5M in payroll.
  4. Los Angeles Angels: Angels new manager Joe Maddon could look to get arguably the best pitcher in baseball and team him up with the best all-around player in baseball in Mike Trout.  The Angels may not the payroll flexibility as the Dodger, but they could still make it work and like the Dodgers, they can offer Cole the opportunity to come home.  The Angels are not overall more talented than the Dodgers as that could be a major factor in Cole’s decision.
  5. Philadelphia Phillies: Despite signing Bryce Harper to a multi-year contract in 2018; which will start in 2019 at $26M, the Phillies still have enough in the kittle to sign Cole. Newly hired manager Joe Girardi will look to make a splash in the off season and the best way would be signing the best starting pitcher available in free agency.  The Phillies will have some expiring contracts of players that really don’t factor in as major core players for them, so they could get it done.

Final Thoughts: We are still awhile away from learning where Gerrit Cole could end up and I believe his agent Scott Boras will no doubt look for the best offer for his client and they would have leverage to wait it out. In the end, whoever signs Gerrit Cole will be getting a tough competitor with stuff to match his grit. If was a betting man and I’m not; I would think that Cole would want to play in his home state (Dodgers or Angels), but then again; money talks & the Yankees will have something to say about that.  In life, timing is everyday and the same can be said in Baseball as Gerrit Cole’s 2018 performance will set him up for one to top contracts given to any pitcher in baseball history.