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A Deal to End All Deals

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

LITERALLY. It’s a deal that will almost certainly go down in baseball history as one of the dumbest of all time. Think Albert Puljols, Jason Haywood, and yes, Alex Rodriguez, the last player to get a mega-deal from the Yankees. Now the Bronx Bombers will fork over $324 Million over NINE years to a 29-year-old pitcher who has had two outstanding seasons back-to-back with those cheatin’ Houston Astros after five years of diminishing production for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Gerrit Cole will be 38 in 2028 – the final year of the deal (!). He is unlikely to be averaging 97 MPH on his fastball at that point. Can he learn to pitch rather than throw by then, like Greg Maddux and C.C. Sabathia did in their latter years? Possibly. But was either of those two worth the equivalent of $36M a year during their last six seasons, when each posted a WAR of 3 or above only once?

Speaking of WAR, Cole did not finish in the Top 10 in that much-ballyhooed category in either of the past two seasons, even though four of the Top 10 finishers were pitchers in both 2019 and 2018. The list includes teammate Justin Verlander, as well as Max Scherzer of the Nationals and even Yankee-for-a-season Lance Lynn. Jacob deGrom of the Mets was the only pitcher to accomplish that feat in both seasons, making his measly $137M deal over five years look like the steal of the decade.

But then again, the Yankees didn’t pull out the stops to get Cole over a bunch of subjective data points. They signed him to finally lock down a World Series victory after only their second full decade without one in almost 100 years. Cole will pitch for an exciting young team that came close the past two seasons and was quite capable of eventually doing it without him. Their odds have certainly improved. But their are no guarantees in baseball. Except for Cole’s $324M, of course. That’s guaranteed.

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