By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Yankees badly want Gerrit Cole, and they are apparently willing throw their financial weight around to bring the ace right-hander to the Bronx.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Yankees ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman and the team's baseball operations department the go-ahead to offer Cole the largest contract for a pitcher in baseball history.
David Price's seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox still stands as the richest deal for a pitcher ever. The Sox signed Price four offseasons ago.
"The Yankees' fondness for the 29-year-old Cole, whose fantastic 2019 season with the Houston Astros set him up to smash David Price's record contract for a pitcher of $217 million, was only reinforced during a meeting with him earlier this week," Passan wrote.
Cole's contract could surpass the $250 million mark because the Los Angeles Angels are also expected to make a strong push for the 29-year-old right-hander. The two sides are fully prepared for a bidding war for Cole's services, according to Passan.
Multiple reports this week have indicated that signing Cole is the number one priority this offseason for New York. The Yankees met with Cole in California this week and reportedly sent a contingent of Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake, and Yankee great Andy Pettitte to the sit-down.
Both Passan and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote this week that the negotiations with the AL Cy Young runner-up could extend into January, but Passan wrote Thursday that the aggressiveness with which the Yankees and Angels plan to pursue Cole could result in an earlier resolution.
"While the expectation going into the offseason was that negotiations with Cole could stretch into January, the clear willingness of teams to engage in high-year, high-dollar deals could ratchet up the timetable," Passan wrote.
The Yankees have long coveted Cole. They drafted him in the first round in 2008, but couldn't strike a contract with him. Cole, a Southern California native, went to UCLA and reentered the draft three years later, where he was taken first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Yanks reportedly discussed a trade with the Pirates two offseasons ago, but the righty ultimately was traded to Houston.
The Astros are not expected to be a major player to retain the righty, who helped led them to the American League pennant this season.