In the eyes of many, the Yankees won the 2019 Major League Baseball offseason, signing superstar free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, the largest ever for a pitcher. Last season, Cole, 29, went 20-5 with an AL-best 2.50 ERA and MLB-leading 326 strikeouts, finishing second in the AL Cy Young voting.
He joined "Moose and Maggie" live from Yankees spring training to talk about the upcoming season, his decision to sign with the team in free agency, his impressions of New York so far, playing in the postseason, etc.
"It's been a blast," Cole said when describing his Yankees experience thus far. "It's a bit surreal to go out and play catch with Andy Pettitte, come in the clubhouse and see Reggie Jackson, came off the field and gave Willie Randolph a fist bump. I love my teammates now for sure. ... It's a special one-of-a-kind environment."
New York drafted Cole 28th overall in 2008, only to see him play for UCLA instead. The Yanks also tried unsuccessfully to trade for Cole after the 2017 season. He instead was dealt by the Pittsburgh Pirates to Houston, where he went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA over two seasons.
"Especially in the meeting, we got a sense of how Cash (general manager Brian Cashman) likes to run his organization here," Cole said. "Within the first three or four weeks I've been here, everything is so professional. Done with attention to detail and championship mentality. That was the pitch during the meeting, and it's lived up to the hype."
Cole's deal includes a full no-trade clause and allows him to opt out after five years. It is the largest contract ever for a pitcher, easily beating the seven-year, $245 million deal Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals agreed to just a day earlier. And the $36 million per season Cole is earning tops all MLB players.
"As far as the checklist of what (his wife) Amy and I were looking for from an organization, the Yankees checked off the most boxes. ... We're not trying to win one, we're trying to win many. Those young guys coming up thru the org are going to play a huge role if were going to chase down multiple championships."
In 2019, Cole was 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his final 22 regular season starts and then went 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in the playoffs, in which Houston lost in the World Series in seven games to the Nationals.
"It comes with the territory," he said. "I like the moment. I love the adrenaline rush, especially when you're out there and gotta make a pitch and the stakes are high and everything is on the line and you can't look back."