- Gerrit Cole has agreed to a record nine-year, $324-million deal to join the New York Yankees
- The right-hander led the American League with a career-best 2.50 ERA in 2019
- His 326 strikeouts were the most in the majors and he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting
Stephen Strasburg was the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history for exactly one day.
Twenty-four hours after the reigning World Series MVP signed a record seven-year, $245-million deal to stay with the Washington Nationals, the New York Yankees trumped that by luring Gerrit Cole away from Houston with a nine-year, $324-million offer.
Though the Bronx Bombers were already the favorites in the 2020 World Series odds, coming in at +500 just six days ago, Tuesday’s signing has seen those odds improve to +325. Will Cole be able to repeat his phenomenal 2019 season in one of the most pressure-filled markets in Major League Baseball? His 2020 season props are not so bullish on that prospect.
Four Cole-related prop wagers have been released, on ERA, strikeouts, wins, and the Cy Young. They mostly predict regression.
Gerrit Cole 2020 ERA Odds
All odds taken Dec. 11, 2019.
Cole led the American League with a career-best 2.50 ERA in 2019. It was the third time in his seven seasons in the majors that his season ERA was below 3.00. (He also put up 2.60 in 2015 and 2.88 in 2018.)
Still, it says something about his other four seasons that his career ERA is 3.22.
Gerrit Cole and the Yankees have agreed to a record nine-year, $324 million contract, sources tell ESPN.
At the reported $36M AAV, this would be the highest average annual value of any $100M contract in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/8VVvq6ArpP
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 11, 2019
It bodes well that, in two seasons playing for a dominant Houston Astros team (rather than the lackluster Pittsburgh squad he toiled for before), his ERA was below 3.00 on both occasions. With back-to-back 100-win seasons in the cut-throat AL East, the Yankees are certainly closer to the Astros than the Pirates in terms of winning capability.
While Cole seemed more than comfortable operating within the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park in Houston, going 12-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 17 starts at home, he was even better on the road, with a 2.36 ERA in 16 starts.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) December 11, 2019
However, it’s worth noting that Cole has only made two career starts at Yankee Stadium, which isn’t quite as pitcher friendly as Minute Maid Park. The first, in 2018, saw Cole pick up the win by giving up three earned runs in six innings of work.
The second came in the postseason last year, when Cole was brilliant in shutting out the Yankees through seven innings of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
That is the Cole that the Yankees will hope they have signed. I’m not betting my money on hope, though. This one is a stay away.
Pick: Stay Away
Gerrit Cole 2020 Total Strikeout Odds
|Under 290 total strikeouts||-140|
|Over 290 total strikeouts||+100|
One stat that shouldn’t be overly affected by trading in his Astros jersey for pinstripes should be Cole’s ability to miss bats.
He’s done it well throughout his career and particularly so in Houston, where he put up 602 strikeouts over his two seasons.
However, only once (2019) has he ever gone over the 290 K mark.
We're breaking down all things Gerrit Cole NOW on Yankees Hot Stove.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) December 11, 2019
In trading in the AL West for the AL East, however, Cole is going to see an entirely different set of divisional opponents on a regular basis, and while the AL East has traditionally been a powerhouse, that’s not exactly the case right now.
Playing within the AL West in 2019, Cole faced two of the major’s worst teams in terms of strikeout rate in Seattle (25.5%) and Texas (25.4%), as well as two of the best in the third-ranked Los Angeles Angels (20.4%) and seventh-ranked Oakland (21.4%).
Highest K/9 in a season in MLB history min. 180 IP:
1. GERRIT COLE – 13.82 (2019)
2. Randy Johnson – 13.41 (2001)
3. Pedro Martinez – (1999)
— New York Yankees Stats (@nyyankeesstats) December 11, 2019
In the AL East, he will get to feast on two teams in the bottom-third of MLB: Toronto (24.9%) and Tampa Bay (24%), as well as a middling Baltimore (23.2%). Only Boston (21.4%) featured in MLB’s top 10 in strikeout rate. So, if anything, Cole may even do better in 2020.
Pick: Over (+100)
Gerrit Cole 2020 Win Total Odds
On three occasions in his major-league career, Cole has registered 15 or more wins in a season.
However, two of those years came during his two seasons in Houston, where he accounted for 35 of the 210 wins the Astros put up. In five seasons with Pittsburgh from 2013-17, Cole averaged 11.8 wins per season pitching for a team that averaged 86.6 wins during his time in the Steel City.
"This is an epic day in Yankee history."
Gerrit Cole's blockbuster deal makes the Yankees a lethal threat in 2020. pic.twitter.com/WylKO5N8rN
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) December 11, 2019
As the ace on a team that has put up back-to-back 100-win seasons, as well as leading the major leagues in runs in both those years, expect Cole to register a 15-win season for a third consecutive year.
Pick: Over (-120)
Odds Gerrit Cole Wins 2020 AL Cy Young
Despite achieving a level of success through his seven major-league seasons, Cole has never won a Cy Young Award.
He came close in 2019, finishing as runner-up to teammate Justin Verlander by a 171-159 vote count. He previously finished fifth in 2018 and fourth in 2015.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 11, 2019
Even as the ace of the Bronx Bombers in 2020, though, Cole figures to be in tough to break through to that exclusive club. He is likely to face stiff competition, with Verlander, Red Sox ace Chris Sale, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, and Cleveland’s Shane Bieber all in the running.
Putting up another year of sub-3.00 ERA, 290-plus strikeouts and over 15 wins will have him firmly in the conversation, but +500 is not long enough to warrant a wager.
Pick: No (-1000)