Whereas position players Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were the jewels of MLB free agency last winter, this year the class of players on the open market is headlined by Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. Though that’s no slight on Anthony Rendon.
The three will be among the more coveted free agents in recent memory, and in some cases could be pursued by the same team. That may figure to apply to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing exit in the National League Division Series.
The Dodgers already have been linked to Cole and Rendon, but how willing they are to make the substantial financial commitment for either player is unclear.
Nevertheless, in the case of Cole, the Dodgers, L.A. Angels and New York Yankees are thought to be the teams that will pursue the right-hander, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com:
The belief within the industry is that the Angels, Dodgers and Yankees are the three teams most likely to seriously pursue Cole. Astros owner Jim Crane said Houston will “take a run” at retaining the ace, though it’s difficult to see how Cole would fit into the team’s salary structure.
A previous report indicated Cole’s most aggressive suitors were likely going to be the incumbent Houston Astros, along with the Dodgers and Yankees. Astros owner Jim Crane recently said the team would make an earnest effort to re-sign the 29-year-old.
Cole spent the past two seasons with the Astros, going a combined 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA, 164 ERA+, 2.67 FIP, 0.96 WHIP and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He averaged a career-best 12.4 strikeouts per nine in 2018, then increased that to 13.8 this year.
While the Dodgers boast depth in their pitching staff heading into next season, they also face a conceivable need in the rotation. Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are both free agents and the likelihood of either returning remains unclear.
As it currently stands, the Dodgers are looking at a scenario where their rotation would be led by Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda, and rounded out by some combination of Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias.
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