I’m certainly not above giving the Yankees flak when I feel they deserve it. One of the benefits of being a blogger - not a journalist - is that I don’t have bridges to burn with the front office. I don’t have sources within the organization that I have to massage. The tradeoff for having less access is more freedom to say what I think about the club, and I’ve been known to do that from time to time.
However, for the time being, I don’t have a criticism for the club. They came into the offseason with one clear, obvious objective; a legitimate pursuit of Gerrit Cole. After years of seeing the Yankees make below-market offers to top-level talent, if they even made offers at all, I was resigned that the team would do the same thing again when it came to courting the best pitcher on the planet.
So far, I may very well be wrong. The Yankees appear to be all-in on Cole, ready to offer him a record-breaking free agent deal. David Price currently owns that distinction, at seven years and $217 million. Most projections for Cole peg him at somewhere around $250 million, and perhaps even more. The Yankees seem ready to meet him at that price point.
This is exactly what I wanted, and what every fan should want. You’ll notice above that I said the Yankees’ objective was a legitimate pursuit of Cole. You have to control the controllables, and there’s a certain amount that the Yankees DON’T control when it comes to Cole. Maybe Artie Moreno gives him a billion dollars. Maybe he has identical contract offers from three teams and has a non-monetary tiebreaker that favors another team. Maybe Cole is tormented by night terrors involving whatever is on top of Randy Levine’s head.
All of this is outside of the Yankees’ control. If one of these factors is at play in the Cole sweepstakes, and it leads to him picking another suitor, they can’t really do anything about it. All the Yankees can do is put forth a real, competitive offer, and see what happens.
They’ve been reluctant to do that in years past - their offer to Patrick Corbin was nearly $40 million less than what the left-hander signed for. There was never a real pursuit of Max Scherzer, probably the greatest free-agent pitcher signing of all time. Yu Darvish tried to get the Yankees to fuel a bidding war only for the team to publicly say “this ain’t it, Yu”. All of those moves have been rightly criticized, but for right now, there’s no real place for criticism in how Brian Cashman and Co. have handled the Cole free agency.
Maybe Gerrit Cole ends up in pinstripes, maybe he doesn’t. All the Yankees can do right now is control what they can control: take this free agency seriously, make a legitimate offer, and be fine with maybe-not-absolute-value-maximization. This is how you land the best pitcher in baseball, and as of right now, they seem to be on the right track.