Andy Pettitte Joins Yankees Recruitment of Cole, Strasburg

Max Goodman

To sign Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, the Yankees brought along an ace of their own.

Andy Pettitte was among the delegation the Yankees sent cross-country to meet with the free-agent right-handers this week, per Buster Olney of ESPN and Joel Sherman of the NY Post.

The former Yankee southpaw joined general manager Brian Cashman, skipper Aaron Boone and new pitching coach Matt Blake in California to sit down with Cole and Strasburg on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. 

Pettitte was similar in many ways to this offseason's most sought after hurlers -- he was a workhorse and ace of New York's staff for the bulk of his career.

Pettitte, 47, spent 15 years in pinstripes in addition to three seasons with the Houston Astros, where Cole has spent the last two seasons. In his career, the southpaw won 256 games while posting a 3.85 ERA and 2448 strikeouts -- 2020 of which came with the Yankees, a franchise record. 

Pettitte finished top-five in Cy Young Award votes four times in his career, appearing in three All-Star games.

With his experience in the Bronx, at the top of the rotation, Pettitte surely was able to provide Cole and Strasburg with an accurate depiction of what pitching in pinstripes is like, and why the two righties would be up for the task should they sign this winter.

It was in the postseason, however, where Pettitte's career became legendary.

The five-time World Series champion won 19 games in the playoffs, the most postseason wins in baseball history. Pettitte also holds the all-time record for most starts (44) and innings pitched in the playoffs (276.2).

Strasburg and Cole are relatively experienced in October, both with over 55 career postseason innings, but showcased their ability to dominate in the postseason in 2019.

Beyond talking baseball and what it's like to play in the Bronx in October, Pettitte can be a tremendous resource for Cole especially from a geographical standpoint. 

Pettitte chose to play in New York -- far from his native Deer Park, Texas -- on two separate occasions. Cole is currently in the midst of a decision to play with the Angels or Dodgers -- close to his hometown of Newport Beach -- or travel cross-country take his talents to New York.

Then again, while geography was rumored to be an overwhelming factor in Cole's free agency selection, George A. King III of the NY Post revealed Wednesday that Cole prefers signing with a club that has the best chance to consistently win, no matter which coast it's on.

As for Strasburg, the reigning World Series MVP is still believed to re-sign with the Nationals this winter. Nonetheless, the Yanks are still engaging in talks with agent Scott Boras for both of his clients. 

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