Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole will be the most sought-after free agent this winter, and the New York Yankees appear keen on pursuing him.
According to a report from Andy Martino of SNY.tv, the Yankees "are expected to engage on" the 29-year-old Cole. That said, Martino emphasized that it "might be a longshot," and it's believed that Cole prefers a club on the west coast (he's a native of Newport Beach, California).
Cole is coming off the best season of his career in which he won 20 games (against just five losses), while posting an ERA of 2.50 and 326 strikeouts against just 48 walks in 212.1 innings pitched.
But the Astros, who are currently down 2-0 to the Washington Nationals in the World Series, will have a difficult time retaining Cole. He figures to land the richest pitcher contract in MLB history; he'll certainly surpass the seven-year, $217 million deal David Price signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.
According to Cot's Baseball, the Astros had an opening day payroll of $158.053 million. Right now, it's hard to envision the Astros paying well over $200 million to retain Cole.
Martino added that if the Yankees don't land Cole, the belief is that they'll role with Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ and Michael King in the rotation.
The Yankees were eliminated by the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS, due in large part to Houston's superior starting pitching. It's clear that New York is in need of another ace, but it remains to be seen if the front office and ownership will have to be willing to pay up record dollars for his services.
Yankees Are Extremely Unlikely To Land Cole
Under owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees have fought hard to stay below the MLB luxury tax. So unless the two brothers are willing to go over that, then they stand practically no chance of landing Cole. He's not going to take a hometown discount, especially when a California team like the Los Angeles Angels will certainly be willing to pay Cole what he's worth.