Yankees Meet With Cole, Will Sit Down With Strasburg Wednesday

Ryan Chatelain
December 03, 2019 - 1:32 pm

The Yankees are meeting with top free agent pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg this week in California in the run-up to the MLB Winter Meetings, which begin Sunday in San Diego.

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Cole is the Yankees' top target, according to multiple reports. But they are certainly not alone in their interest in the right-hander who led the American League in ERA and strikeouts this past season. There has been plenty of speculation that the Newport Beach, California, native might prefer to stay close to home.

If he does, it would be déjà vu of sorts for the Yankees, who drafted Cole 28th overall in 2008, only to see him play for UCLA instead. The Bombers also tried unsuccessfully to trade for Cole after the 2017 season. He instead landed in Houston, where he went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA over two seasons and won an AL pennant.

Among the other teams believed to be interested in Cole are the Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Phillies and Nationals.

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Strasburg is also drawing interest from the Nationals and Dodgers, as well as his hometown Padres, according to reports. The 31-year-old right-hander went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 2019 for the world champion Nationals. Strasburg was named World Series MVP.

The Yankees met with Cole on Tuesday and will talk with Strasburg on Wednesday, WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported. Both pitchers are represented by super agent Scott Boras. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal also said it's possible at least one of the pitchers will sign during the Winter Meetings, but added that the Cole negotiations could extend into January.

While all signs point to Cole being the Yankees' top target, the front office doesn't want to wait on Cole, see him sign elsewhere and then miss out on their top alternatives, too, SNY's Andy Martino reported. In addition to Strasburg, the Yankees are interested in and staying engaged with Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has already received at least one $100 million offer, The Athletic reported.

In an interview that aired Monday night, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told the YES Network he'd be "a lot more comfortable" with the team's starting pitcher as it stands now than at this time a year ago. The rotation is currently led by James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino. Also potentially in the mix are J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi Garcia. 

But Steinbrenner said starting pitching continues to be a top priority in free agency.

"You can't have enough," he said.