There is no doubt that until Gerrit Cole inks his name to a contract he will be connected to the New York Yankees. There is also no doubt that the Yankees will look everywhere to upgrade their rotation and starting lineup in hopes that these will be the final adjustments to put them over the hump and get them back into the World Series. For the first time since the 1910s the Yankees didn’t make an appearance in the Fall Classic in the 2010s and that has to be weighing on the front office and ownership regardless of the brave faces they put forward.
Cole would be a no-brainer addition to the Yankees, the team that drafted him out of high school in 2008 only to watch him go off to UCLA and become a first overall pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will most likely command a record-breaking contract and if recent history is any indication the Yankees might not venture into that territory. That will surely anger some Yankees fans who are tired of almost and waiting for next season. But it might make the most sense.
General manager Brian Cashman has a history of making moves under the cloak of darkness. Last season the Yankees were linked with Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin. Instead, Cashman walked away with James Paxton, Adam Ottavino, and D.J. LeMahieu. The year prior nobody could have envisioned reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton joining the Yankees for what amounted to spare parts. Cashman has let the media speculate away without telegraphing his moves publicly. It has worked to his advantage so far as prices aren’t driven up through the roof. Why would he deviate now?
The Yankees will certainly entertain Cole and will probably make him an offer. They might do the same with Stephen Strasburg. However, the Yankees might not come away with either one. The Yankees set a price on a player and refuse to budge. Gone are the days of bidding against themselves as they did with Alex Rodriguez. Gone are the days of panicked moves that resulted in Jacoby Ellsbury being given $20 million per year.
Cashman will shoot his shot with Cole and probably Strasburg and if nothing moves on that front he will easily pivot towards a Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, or a trade for a starter like Jon Gray, Corey Kluber, or Robbie Ray. He also might feel perfectly comfortable going into 2020 with a rotation of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, and J.A. Happ with prospects like Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King, Deivi Garcia, Chance Adams, and Clarke Schmidt knocking on the door. The trade deadline might be kinder to Cashman this time around.
No matter what, the New York Yankees are World Series contenders as currently constructed. Health will obviously play a major role as they can’t go through another year where 31 players hit the injured list. The Yankees had set the MLB record for most players on the injured list by August 30th last season and there is no way that can happen again.
Can the Yankees use Gerrit Cole? What team in baseball couldn’t? Are they good enough to win without him? Certainly. Odds right now are Cashman will add to this roster and try again to get that World Series ring. The good news is that the Yankees’ core is still young and mathematically it is almost impossible to repeat the bad luck they had with injuries last year. Now it’s time for Yankees fans to relax and let Cashman do his job and trust he knows what he is doing.