Gerrit Cole made Major League Baseball history on Tuesday night when it was reported that he has agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees.
After Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year, $245 million pact to return to the Washington Nationals, which was a record for pitchers in both total money and average annual value, it became evident that Cole could be the first pitcher to reach the $300 million threshold.
The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and L.A. Angels were the three teams vying for his services the hardest, with the Dodgers reportedly making a late push at the Winter Meetings before Cole ultimately chose New York.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, both the Dodgers’ and Angels’ offers for Cole were below what the Yankees gave him in terms of years and AAV:
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) December 11, 2019
It is not surprising that the Dodgers were not able to get to those numbers considering their current front office has never given out a nine-figure contract to a free agent.
Cole was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2019, going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP and 0.90 WHIP in 33 starts for the Houston Astros. He led MLB with 326 strikeouts compared to just 48 walks in 212.1 innings.
With the potential departures of both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill in free agency, the Dodgers have a need for a starting pitcher, which is why they made a run at the best available. It seems they are not wasting any time moving to other options as they reportedly have shifted their focus to Madison Bumgarner.
Considering Bumgarner is a longtime rival as a member of the San Francisco Giants, the fit in L.A. would be a bit interesting. He is expected to command a significantly lower contract than Cole, but it still could reach nine figures considering the interest in the starting pitching market.
One other alternative would be bringing back Ryu, who Andrew Friedman confirmed on Tuesday evening that the Dodgers have had conversations with. While it won’t be going to Cole, the Dodgers have money to spend this winter and seem to be poised to add some sort of starting pitcher to an already quality group.
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