Gerrit Cole signs with Yankees for record-breaking $324 million deal

The New York Yankees have agreed to terms on a record-breaking nine-year deal with right-hander Gerrit Cole worth $324 million, CBS Sports HQ's Jim Bowden confirmed Tuesday night. Cole had previously been linked to the Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet the Yankees, who were unable to sign Cole after drafting him out of high school, were nonetheless victorious in the end.

Cole, 29, was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 326 strikeouts against 48 walks in 212 1/3 innings last season for the American League champion Houston Astros. He was also 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 36 2/3 postseason innings. He led the majors in strikeouts, ERA+ and strikeout rate, and the AL in ERA and FIP, among other categories. By nearly any measure, Cole is currently a top-five pitcher in all of baseball. 

Here are four other things to know about the deal:

1. Cole breaks the bank ... and multiple records

Not only is Cole's deal the richest ever signed by a pitcher -- Stephen Strasburg held those records for less than 48 hours after he re-signed with the Nationals for seven years and $245 million on Monday -- but his $36 million average annual value is the highest in baseball history, topping Mike Trout ($35.5 million). In addition to being the first pitcher to ever top $300 million, Cole's pact is also the fourth-richest in all of baseball.

For a look at what this deal means for the Yankees' luxury tax figures in 2020, click here.

2. The Yankees' rotation is a strength

It wasn't too long ago that the Yankees' rotation was considered a relative weakness. That no longer appears to be the case. In Cole, the Yankees have added a 6-foot-4 right-hander who finished second in AL Cy Young voting last season -- that after a fifth-place finish in 2018 and a fourth-place finish in 2015 in the NL. We ranked him as the second-best free agent available this winter, writing:

Cole has everything you want in an ace: the frame, the arsenal, the track record. He's thrown 200-plus innings in each of the last three seasons, compiling a 136 ERA+ and a 4.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio along the way. He does most of his work with a 97 mph fastball and two swing-and-miss breaking balls -- an upper-80s slider and a low-80s curveball. He also ranks in the 94th percentile or better as it pertains to the following innate characteristics teams like in their pitchers: fastball velocity, fastball spin, and curveball spin. There's always an injury risk, unspoken or otherwise, with pitchers -- but he's going to get paid regardless. And he should.

With Cole entrenched as the Yankees' ace, here's how their rotation looks: 

  1. Gerrit Cole, RHP
  2. James Paxton, LHP
  3. Luis Severino, RHP
  4. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP
  5. J.A. Happ, LHP (or, more likely, Jordan Montgomery, LHP)

Team that with a good bullpen and powerful offense, and the Yankees will once again be one of the best teams in baseball in 2020. Given that Cole's signing means he won't return to the Astros, you can make a case that the Yankees are -- at minimum -- the best team in the American League on paper.

3. The Yankees can now address other aspects

What's next on the Yankees' to-do list? Presumably they'll look to trade J.A. Happ to create some financial flexibility. From there, they're likely to pursue re-signing Brett Gardner, and perhaps Dellin Betances. The Yankees might also look into shortstop options now that Didi Gregorius has signed elsewhere. They haven't publicly been connected to anyone this winter, but in the past they've been known to ask on the Arizona Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed, among others.

4. The Angels, Dodgers must shift focus

While the Yankees have every right to celebrate, the Angels and Dodgers now have to regroup and move on. For the Angels, that could mean pursuing Anthony Rendon, and trying to navigate a trade for David Price -- or, perhaps, signing Madison Bumgarner or Hyun-Jin Ryu. For the Dodgers, that too might mean going after Rendon, Bumgarner or Ryu.

For a complete look at the winners and losers of this deal, click here.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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