What Strasburg's Contract Means For Yankees Pursuit of Cole

Max Goodman

Stephen Strasburg will re-sign with the Nationals for seven years, $245 million. What does that mean for the Yankees and the Gerrit Cole Sweepstakes? 

The Hot Stove was scalding at the Winter Meetings on Monday.

The Washington Nationals and right-hander Stephen Strasburg agreed on a seven-year, $245 million deal, shattering the previous record for total contractual value ($217 million) for a starting pitcher. 

And yet, as the sun rises on Day Two of the Winter Meetings in San Diego, it seems inevitable that Strasburg's record won't stand for long.

Long before Strasburg's deal broke, sending the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego into a frenzy, the "a seven-year, $245 million" was the reported offer that was going to Gerrit Cole. Bob Klapisch of the New York Times had it first. 

Hours later, as more details surfaced about Strasburg's agreement to re-up with the Nationals, the numbers for what Cole is bound to make continued to increase. Numbers that used to be a bold prediction rapidly morphed into a probability -- if not an inevitability.

At this point, agent Scott Boras -- who represents both free-agent hurlers -- was eager for offers and surely inking a deal with one of his clients had built some serious momentum.

Expectations went from $250 to $280 million, then jumped up to north of $300 and continued to climb. Further, forget Strasburg's seven-year agreement, reports of Cole signing a nine-year deal came out as well.

Rumors and reports from different sources are a staple at the Winter Meetings -- that's one of the key components that sets this week apart from the rest of the offseason. This expedited progression and deluge of tweets and stories about one player, however, lends us all to believe Cole is in deep negotiations with multiple teams as we speak.

For the Yankees, the organization continues to prove they are full steam ahead on signing Cole. By flying out to Southern California days prior to the Winter Meetings, for some extra face time with the three-time All-Star, their intentions are clear. 

According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, New York is actively shopping J.A. Happ to soften the blow that signing Gerrit Cole would leave on the club's luxury-tax payroll -- further confirmation that this process is speeding up.

Based on his dominance the last few seasons, along with his age -- as he's two years younger than Strasburg -- Cole is going to make more than Strasburg. That's a given. But Strasburg setting the all-time record for a starting pitcher and signing for the exact figure of what was reported as an initial offer to Boras' other client means Cole's negotiations are bound to skyrocket even higher than originally anticipated. 

The Yankees, Angels and Dodgers remain the top three teams with the best shot to sign Cole. With geography rumored to be less of a deciding factor for the Southern California native, and assuming contracts are of similar value, Cole is likely to sign where he has the best chance to win.

New York is wasting no time. Per Jack Curry of YES Network, Brian Cashman and the Yanks were expected to make a "very, very competitive offer" on Monday. 

If the Bombers did in fact submit their first offer, there's still negotiation to do on Tuesday -- unless they blew Cole away. With Boras' reputation and Cole's value, however, negotiations in this enhanced market should continue to push upwards. 

Either way, the Yankees are on the clock. With the likelihood of Cole signing before the end of the Winter Meetings, New York has two days to assess the situation and review their options or, simply put, pony up. 

Should they choose the latter, a choice they are inclined to pick, Tuesday could be the day Cole signs on the dotted line.

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