Gerrit Cole, still 27-years-old, had a 4.26 ERA, a 1.251 WHIP, a 8.7 k/9 and a 2.4 BB/9 which was good for a 101 ERA+ in 203 innings in 2017. Cole is arbitration eligible this offseason and next and won’t be a free agent until two years from now.
There is a lot of debate about how good Cole can actually be. He was an ace-caliber pitcher in 2015 when he had a 2.60 ERA in 208 innings with 202 strikeouts that year, but then he dealt with injuries in 2016 and only had a 3.88 ERA over 116 innings.
If the Yankees go after Cole, it will probably cost them Clint Frazier and a top starting pitching prospect like Chance Adams plus other prospects. They would have to have faith that he would bounce back and have a year at least similar to his 2015 campaign to go all in. The upside is that he will likely only cost about $8 million this year so the Yankees could conceivably add both Cole and CC Sabathia.
Injuries to CC Sabathia‘s knees and alcoholism have limited the 37-year-old in the past few seasons. He hasn’t reached 200 innings since 2013 and knee problems persisted even late into the 2017 season. But he did found some semblance of consistency in last year and finished the season with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.271 WHIP with a 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 148.2 innings. Plus, he stepped up big time in the playoffs.
A one year deal seems reasonable at this point, for both sides. The problem has been the uncertainty of the offseason. First was the pursuit of Japanese stud Shohei Ohtani and now it has been dealing with the Giancarlo Stanton trade. The Yankees ability to figure out roster flexibility by trading either Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley or even Brett Gardner is going to have a large impact on what they can spend.
As the luxury tax situation sits right now, the Yankees have about $16 to $18 million left to spend. While CC makes sense for them it doesn’t make sense for them to rush to spend the few dollars they have left to spend.
Jacoby Ellsbury is still owed $63.4 million over the next three years and Chase Headley has just one year and $13 million left. The Yankees will have to pay Headley $1 million if he’s traded, per Cot’s Contracts.
According to reports, the Yankees are planning on rotating Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the corner outfield spots and DH, and Aaron Hicks will be the starting center fielder. That leaves Ellsbury as the 5th outfielder and a severe roadblock to Clint Frazier.
Headley, on the other hand, could still potentially fit on the roster, but the Yankees are right up against the luxury tax threshold following the Stanton trade and could use some wiggle room as they attempt to upgrade the pitching. After all, they have some flexibility in the infield with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes and even Thairo Estrada.