The New York Yankees have finally landed their white whale. Late Tuesday night, the Yankees and Gerrit Cole agreed to a record nine-year contract worth $324 million. It is the largest pitching contract in baseball history and the $36 million average annual value is the largest in history overall, pitcher or position player.

It is not easy to improve a 103-win roster, but the Yankees had a glaring need atop their rotation, and Cole answers that question. The Yankees can also look forward to Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton getting back on the field next season after missing most of 2019 with injuries. The Yankees are poised to be even better next season.

Adding Cole was not about the regular season, however. The Yankees were going to head into 2020 as AL East favorites and as a World Series contender with or without him. Signing Cole is about getting over the hump in the postseason. New York was two wins away from the World Series this past season and one win away in 2017. They're tired of falling short.

Because the Yankees were so good to start with, SportsLine does not see Cole moving the needle much during the 2020 regular season. He's only about a one win upgrade. The big improvement comes in the postseason:


WinsWin %AL East %Postseason %ALCS %World Series %

Without Cole

95.5

.590

26.8

71.3

11.4

5.7

With Cole

96.5

.596

29.7

75.3

18.8

11.9

Change

+1.0

+.006

+2.9

+3.9

+7.4

+5.9

Signing Cole more than doubles New York's World Series odds. Not only is he a true balance of power player, someone who could swing a division race or a postseason series all by himself, but the Yankees took him away from the Astros, a team they could face in October. It's a double whammy. The Yankees add Cole and the Astros subtract Cole.

This year the Yankees started a gassed Chad Green with their season on the line in Game 6 of the World Series because they did not have an obvious fourth starter in the postseason. Green was used an opener several times during the regular season, so it was not an unfamiliar role, but he was used heavily in October, and fatigue had set in. Cole will help the Yankees avoid a repeat in 2020.

As for the Astros, losing Cole takes small bite out of their projected regular season win total, but his impact on their World Series odds in enormous. From SportsLine:


WinsWin %AL West %Postseason %ALCS %World Series %

With Cole

106.4

.657

91.5

97.8

38.5

24.0

Without Cole

105.2

.649

91.0

96.8

38.2

17.4

Change

-1.2

-.008

-1.5

-1.0

-5.6

-6.8

Note that losing Cole decreases the Astros' World Series odds more than it improves the Yankees' World Series odds. Also note the Astros still have better World Series odds without Cole than the Yankees do with Cole. Houston remains an extremely talented team and they have a clearer path to the postseason in a weaker division, giving them better postseason odds.

Spring Training is still rough 10 weeks away and that gives both the Astros and Yankees plenty of time make more additions and further improve their World Series odds. New York has added their big fish. Now they figure to make smaller complementary moves. The Astros, meanwhile, are discussing trading Carlos Correa to clear money to do other things.