by Alex Poletti
New perks are being released about starting pitcher Gerrit Cole’s record-breaking nine-year contract with the New York Yankees, including a full no-trade clause and full sovereignty of a small country of his choice, The Second String reports.
“We said we’d be willing to shell out to get Cole,” New York general manager Brian Cashman says. “For a player of his caliber, it’s all worth it. Who cares if we have to invade and occupy a small country of Cole’s choosing to keep him happy? When we hoist the World Series trophy over our heads, people won’t remember what we had to give.”
Earlier this morning, the Yankees and Cole reached a deal at the Winter Meetings in San Diego for a nine-year contract worth $324 million. This breaks almost every record for a starting pitcher, including average annual value (AAV), length and total value. The deal includes all the perks, including an opt-out after year five.
“We haven’t heard from Cole yet, but many in the industry believe he’s thinking Malta for his small country,” an MLB insider tells The Second String. “Malta is an obvious choice: little to no political turmoil, beautiful tourist attractions. It may be a little more costly than the Yankees would like. The club is hoping Cole will take on a country like Comoros, a low-population, low-GDP country whose government may be easier to take over.”
After a lackluster start to his career in Pittsburgh, Cole turned it around in two years with the Houston Astros. Over the last two seasons, Cole carries a 35-10 record with a 2.68 ERA. He had the best season of his career in 2019, striking out a league-best 326 batters while also leading the league in ERA and several other categories. He finished second in Cy Young voting to teammate Justin Verlander.
We’ll only know how well Cole’s contract pans out in a decade’s time. The team hopes his career will blossom like Verlander’s, but he could just as well turn out to be Barry Zito. Regardless, many our skeptical of how much the Yankees had to give to get their ace.
“Cole was the best pitcher on the market, and he’s one of the top three in baseball right now,” MLB Network anchor Dan Plesac says. “But I don’t know if I’d give anyone nine years. CC Sabathia signed that seven-year deal in 2009, and by the end it was a total albatross. The Yankees are now out of a second-rounder and they have to take military action against a small country? If Cole can keep up the numbers and they win a few trophies, sure it’s worth the subordination of an entire population to a monarch-figure with no political experience. But if he can’t pull out a Cy Young, it gets a lot harder to justify.”