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Cole Signs With Yankees; New York’s World Series Odds Improve to +325

Gerrit Cole delivers pitch
Internet models Lauren Summers and Julia Rose flashed Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole during Game 5 of the World Series. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
  • The New York Yankees have signed Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking 9-year, $324 million dollar contract
  • Books have made the Bronx Bombers World Series favorites following the signing
  • Cole’s deal reported includes opt-out clause after the fifth season

Prior to securing a deal with Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees’ average 2020 World Series odds were +550. The Yankees are now at a range of +325 to +400.

The 2019 World Series runners-up and Cole’s former team the Houston Astros follow the Yankees as second favorites. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were also chasing Cole, sit third, while the Atlanta Braves – one of the most active teams this off-season.

2020 World Series Odds

Team Odds at Book 1 Odds at Book 2
New York Yankees +325 +400
Houston Astros +550 +900
Los Angeles Dodgers +600 +700
Atlanta Braves +1100 +1200
Washington Nationals +1400 +1400
Boston Red Sox +1600 +1600
Cleveland Indians +1600 +2500
St Louis Cardinals +1800 +1600
Chicago Cubs +2000 +2000
Philadelphia Phillies +2000 +1200

Odds taken Dec. 11.

Yankees Finally Get Their Ace

The Yankees’ rotation has been tweaked over the last couple of years. James Paxton and J.A. Happ arrived, and big trades have been rumored.

With Luis Severino struggling to stay healthy, their rotation was a major weakness in 2019. New York ranked 19th in MLB in WAR from their starting pitchers, behind the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers.

When it came to the post-season, the Yankees’ offense blew the Minnesota Twins away. Their starters couldn’t live with the standards set by the Houston Astros in the Championship Series, however.

The series loss guaranteed that Brian Cashman would be on the look out for an ace this winter and with Cole and Stephen Strasburg on the market, it felt inevitable one would end up in pinstripes.

If they’re all healthy, Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Paxton and Severino should be one of the most formidable rotations in the game. The Yankees’ starters owned a 4.51 ERA last season, a solidly middle-of-the-pack performance. The Nationals had the second-best starters’ ERA in 2019 at 3.51 – it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Yankees close to that number in 2020.

Limited Weaknesses

Cole’s signing is scary for the rest of the American League. The former first overall pick has transformed into arguably the best pitcher in the game. His strikeout numbers are otherworldly. The rotation was the one area that the Yankees had question marks about, but this signing changes that.

The lineup was fearsome in 2019 despite lots of injuries. Giovanny Urshela was a great find, Gary Sanchez enjoyed a bounce back year and DJ LeMahieu’s signing proved to be a stroke of genius.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will be healthy for the start of 2020, and it’s likely Brett Gardner will return to fill the hole in center field left by Aaron Hicks’ injury. Miguel Andujar will replace Edwin Encarnacion at DH, too.

New York’s bullpen has been one of the best in the Majors over the last two years. Their relievers ranked second in fWAR in 2019 and owned the sixth-best left on base percentage. That group remains elite, with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle all returning in 2020. They have also shown interest in Blake Treinen.

This is now a complete roster. The front of the rotation might not be quite as dominant as some others, but it has the potential to be in the top five in the Majors. Paired with a homer-filled line-up and a lockdown bullpen, the Yankees deserve their status as World Series favorites.

Astros Showdown

The Yankees are going to take some stopping. They should win the American League East easily. The Red Sox are looking to reduce payroll and while the Rays will fancy their chances of a wildcard berth again, it’s hard to see them keeping up with the Yankees over 162 games.

Several potential American League contenders still have work to do. The Twins, Angels and White Sox are a couple of moves away (at least) from competing with the Yankees and Astros. Cole returning to Houston in the American League Championship Series isn’t exactly far-fetched, and he could prove to be the difference maker.

Signing Cole was going to be enormous for whichever team landed him. For the Yankees, though, it has the added significance of weakening their greatest challenger in the American League, and arguably for a World Series title.

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