The Yankees are going big-game hunting. Maybe.
General manager Brian Cashman reportedly says the Yankees have "checked in" on free agent starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and Stephen Strasburg.
The Yankees have "checked in" regarding Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler so far, among others, GM Brian Cashman said.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) November 14, 2019
While the Yankees' starting pitching wasn't the reason they were ousted in the ALCS, starting pitching has been something of an unsolvable equation for the Yankees in prior seasons. The franchise has seemed more preoccupied with finding controllable starters on cheap deals over the past three or four seasons (Sonny Gray, James Paxton).
The recruitment of Cole begin with now-former Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia, who said on his podcast that he and Cole have talked extensively about pitching in New York.
"If you offer that motherf—er enough money, he's gonna want to come here (to New York)," Sabathia said with a laugh. "I'm speaking from experience."
Rapid reaction: "Checking in" shouldn't be good enough for the Yankees — or their fans.
While the Yankees used to go big-game hunting, recent years have revealed the Bombers and their front office have been more willing to go the "creative" route than the big-money route. The last few times the Yankees opened up the checkbook for a free-agent starting pitcher, it worked out pretty well — CC Sabathia helped bring the Yankees their 28th championship ring, while Masahiro Tanaka has been one of the best postseason pitchers they've had, despite being up and down during the regular season.
Still, there seems to be some sort of reluctance on New York's part to go all-in on free agency now. While the team should have eyes toward the future and wanting to keep its core around — Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, Gleyber Torres are the big three who have yet to be paid big bucks — the window to win a title is now.
If Gerrit Cole gets the Photoshop and dinner treatment, then the team shouldn't let him leave the restaurant without signing a contract. At 29 years old, even an eight-year deal shouldn't scare the Yankees away. The same can be said about any of the starting pitchers on the market, including Strasburg and Wheeler. If the Yanks are serious about winning like they once were, then payroll flexibility and the excuse of future contracts shouldn't get in the way.
Cashman at the GM meetings said, yes, he will be talking to Scott Boras this winter about Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. But he also mentioned the heavy payroll commitments for next season and opportunities that could become available via the trade market. Very, very early...
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) November 12, 2019
Starting pitching wasn't the reason they lost in the ALCS, but when you're throwing together a bullpen day in an elimination game on the road, maybe it should be a priority.