The Yankees' full-court press of Gerrit Cole has paid off, with the free agent pitcher agreeing to a whopping nine-year, $324 million contract with the team, WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported late Tuesday night.
It is the largest contract ever for a pitcher, easily beating the seven-year, $245 million deal Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals agreed to just a day earlier. And the $36 million per season Cole will earn tops all MLB players.
The deal includes a full no-trade clause and allows him to opt out after five years.
The Yankees made signing Cole their top priority this offseason, addressing their biggest need. With Cole in tow, the Bombers figure to be a trendy pick to win the World Series in 2020. The Angels and Dodgers were reportedly the Yankees' biggest competition in signing him.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake and former pitcher Andy Pettitte traveled to California to meet with Cole. Boone told WFAN on Friday he came away from the visit impressed with Cole's approach to the game.
"His intelligence, his attention to detail, as far as his craft -- everything from his mechanics to how his body works to his nutrition and sports science and all -- I mean, he was impressive," Boone said. "He understands who he is. He understands who he is, and he understands where he's at in his career. And it was pretty neat to get to spend some hours with him."
Landing Cole concludes the Yankees' decade-long pursuit of the right-hander. New York drafted Cole 28th overall in 2008, only to see him play for UCLA instead. The Yanks also tried unsuccessfully to trade for Cole after the 2017 season. He instead was dealt by the Pittsburgh Pirates to Houston, where he went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA over two seasons.
Last season, Cole, 29, went 20-5 with an AL-best 2.50 ERA and MLB-leading 326 strikeouts, finishing second in the AL Cy Young voting. He was 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his final 22 regular season starts and then went 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in the playoffs, in which Houston lost in the World Series in seven games to the Nationals.
Cole joins a Yankees rotation that also includes Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and James Paxton. Also potentially in the mix are Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, Domingo German and J.A. Happ, although he has been the subject of recent trade speculation.