WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Top pitcher Geritt Cole, 29, has reached a free-agent contract deal with the New York Yankees on Tuesday, according to several reports.
- Jon Heyman of MLB Network says the $324M contract is the largest so far in major league history exceeding Stephen Strasburg’s $245 million deal with the Washington Nationals.
- A yearly pay of $36M also makes it the highest average salary in MLB history.
Months of speculation on former Houston Astros right-hander Geritt Cole’s next pitching destination ended when he signed a 9-year deal with the New York Yankees on Tuesday agreeing to the terms of a free-agent contract, according to news of confirmation from Yahoo Sports.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the contract is worth $324 million, making it the biggest contract given to a pitcher in major league history, even surpassing the $245 million contract of Stephen Strasburg with the Washington Nationals. A yearly pay of $36M also makes it the highest average salary in MLB.
In a 35-10 record with a 2.68 ERA, Cole’s two seasons in Astro of over 200 innings and spikes in velocity and strikeouts made him one of the best pitchers in the game. He also followed up his regular league season by winning five postseason games for the Astros. His recorded ERA over 49 2/3 innings was 2.17 in seven starts during the 2018 and 2-19 playoffs. He threw a record of 64 strikeouts and 13 walks.
The 29-year-old pitcher led the 2019 season with 326 strikeouts, the 14th highest in history by a pitcher and the most in 17 years. Prior to trading for him before the 2018 season, Cole was encouraged by the Astros to direct his four-seam fastball to more strikeouts. In Houston, he struck out nearly five batters per nine innings, more than he did in Pittsburgh. This result would propel into free agency as a potential immediate solution for dropping rotations through the game.
For making at least 32 starts in four of the past five seasons, Cole was widely considered as the best among a class of fellow starting pitchers that included Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-jin Ryu, Jake Odorizzi, Dallas Keuchel and Cole Hamels.
Cole grew up in Newport Beach and played for the baseball team at Orange Lutheran High School. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he played college baseball for the UCLA Bruins. Although he was rumored of planning to sign with West Coast team for reasons of familiarity and comfort, Cole never said so in public.