Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg were two of the most coveted starting pitchers in recent memory, and free agency saw both sign what was a record-setting contract. Of course, Strasburg’s marks held for just over 24 hours.
The Winter Meetings began with the Washington Nationals re-signing him to a seven-year, $245 million contract. It represented the richest deal for a pitcher and topped the highest average annual value that had been held by Zack Greinke.
Strasburg’s lucrative contract set the bar for Cole to exceed, which he did by agreeing to a nine-year, $324 million deal with the New York Yankees. In doing so, Cole spurned the Los Angeles Dodgers and L.A. Angels.
While the Dodgers fell short for another marquee free agent, it was not for a lack of effort, as their entire focus in free agency lied on Cole, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
“As much as the Yankees were focused on this, so were the Dodgers. I was told earlier today he was 100% their focus the entire season. This was the guy. This was the guy they cleared payroll for, they got under the luxury tax threshold for, and in the end they could not hold off the Yankees. … Cole was their guy. No one else. This was the guy that they wanted, and the Yankees just bullied them and bullied everyone else.”
Prior to free agency beginning, the Dodgers, Houston Astros and Yankees were identified as the likely suitors for Cole. Once the offseason arrived, the Astros seemingly tailed off and were replaced by the Angels.
The Angels and Yankees began to pull away as the frontrunners, but the Dodgers were said to still be a factor as late as 20 minutes before news of Cole agreeing to a deal with New York broke.
Still in search of a starting pitcher after missing out on their purported top target, the Dodgers are thought to be focusing on Madison Bumgarner.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!