Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Yankees Make It Official: Cole Inks 9-Year Deal

This message was on the screens at Yankee Stadium Wednesday morning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees announced the signing of pitcher Gerrit Cole last week, but they made it official on Wednesday morning ahead of a press conference at The Stadium introducing their new ace.

Cole signed a nine-year contract worth a record $324 million, which will extend through the 2028 season with a player opt-out following the 2024 season.

Cole, a 29-year-old right-hander, finished second in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2019 after going 20-5 with an AL-best 2.50 ERA (212.1IP, 142H, 66R/59ER, 48BB, 326K, 29HR) in 33 starts with the Houston Astros. He led Major League pitchers in strikeouts, strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio (13.82), strikeout rate (39.9%) and WAR (7.4, FanGraphs) while ranking second in wins and WHIP (0.89) and fourth in innings.

The 326 strikeouts Cole racked up were the 14th-highest single-season total in the Modern Era (since 1900), and he became only the sixth pitcher in that span to reach the mark (Randy Johnson-5 times, Nolan Ryan-5 times, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Rube Waddell). It was the Majors’ highest total since Arizona’s Randy Johnson (334) in 2002 and the highest by an AL pitcher since California’s Nolan Ryan (341) in 1977. His 212.1 innings pitched were the fewest in a 300-strikeout season in Baseball history.

Cole became the fourth pitcher in Major League history to notch double-digit strikeouts at least 21 times in one season, joining Randy Johnson (3x), Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan, and from August 7, 2019 through the end of the season, became the first pitcher ever to compile a streak of nine consecutive double-digit-strikeout performances. Over his final 22 regular-season starts, he went 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA (146.2IP, 29ER) and 226 strikeouts, the longest streak of winning decisions in a single season since the Yankees’ Roger Clemens also won 16 consecutive decisions in 2001.

Cole took home three of the AL’s six “Pitcher of the Month” Awards in 2019, in June, July and September, then went 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA (36.2IP, 7ER) and 47 strikeouts in five postseason starts to lead Houston to the American League pennant.

In 2019, Cole threw 1,048 fastballs of at least 97.0 mph (Statcast) and registered a 97.2 mph average velocity on the pitch, both of which ranked second among qualified Major League pitchers (FanGraphs).

In two seasons with the Astros (2018-19), Cole was 35-10 (.778) with a 2.68 ERA (412.2IP, 123ER) over 65 starts and led the Majors in strikeouts during that span over that span. Only Justin Verlander (37) recorded more wins, while his 13.13 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio trailed only Chris Sale (13.41) among pitchers with at least 300.0 innings pitched over the last two seasons.

Cole has proven to be one of the most durable starting pitchers in baseball, as he has eclipsed the 200.0-innings pitched mark in each of the last three seasons and is one of five pitchers to hit the mark in four of the last five seasons.

In 192 starts across seven Major League seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2013-17) and Houston Astros (2018-19), Cole is 94-52 with a 3.22 ERA (1,195.0IP, 1,034H, 461R/427ER, 315BB, 1,336K, 115HR). In addition to his three All-Star appearances (2018-19 with Houston, 2015 with Pittsburgh), he has finished in the top-five of Cy Young Award voting three times (second in 2019, fifth in 2018, fourth in 2015).

After going 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA (782.1IP, 304ER) over 127 starts in five seasons with Pittsburgh, he was acquired by Houston in exchange for RHP Michael Feliz, OF Jason Martin, INF Colin Moran and RHP Joe Musgrove on January 13, 2018.

Originally selected by the Yankees in the first round (28th overall) of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Cole did not sign and played at UCLA for three seasons (2009-11). The Pirates then made Cole the first overall pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the 15th pitcher (and 11th right-hander) to be chosen first. He will become the fifth first overall pick to play for the Yankees, joining Alex Rodriguez (1993, Seattle; 2004-13, ’15-16 with the Yankees), Darryl Strawberry (1980, New York-NL; 1995-99 with the Yankees), Tim Foli (1968, New York-NL; 1984 with the Yankees) and Ron Blomberg (1967, New York-AL; 1969, ‘71-76 with the Yankees).

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated RHP Chance Adams for assignment.

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