Hal Steinbrenner: Gerrit Cole Will Be 'Game Changer' For Yankees

Owner Also Says It's Time To Move On From Astros' Scandal

Joe & Evan
February 27, 2020 - 2:53 pm

The 2020 Major League Baseball season begins in under a month.

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For the Yankees, 2020 presents a real opportunity to win a 28th World Series title. Both the Astros and Red Sox have been hurt by the fallout from Houston’s sign-stealing scandal, and Gerrit Cole, arguably the best pitcher in the league, came to New York in free agency.

On Thursday, Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN live from spring training in Tampa, Florida to talk about the season ahead. Steinbrenner had high praise for Cole, who he views as a real “game changer.”

“I think our history shows that if we have money come off the payroll, and sometimes even if we don’t, we put money into the team," said Steinbrenner. "But for that kind of expenditure, as I said a couple of months ago at the stadium during the press conference, I’m only going to do that if I’m sure this person is going to be a game changer. And I really believe this guy checks all the boxes. He has made an unbelievable impression here with how much he studies, and embraces analytics and how intelligent he is.”

Cole certainly was a big expenditure. The 29-year-old signed a nine-year, $324 million deal with New York during the offseason, but Steinbrenner knows he might be worth it. Cole tallied 20 wins with a 2.50 ERA in Houston last season, with his dominance on the mound resulting in a second-place finish in the race for the AL Cy Young Award.

The Yankees were hurt at times last season, and in the playoffs, by their lack of a clear ace at the front of the rotation. Cole gives them that ace, and he does so at the perfect time. Luis Severino will miss the entirety of the 2020 season after he undergoes Tommy John surgery.

Steinbrenner also spoke about whether the franchise would be looking to lock up some of its younger players, as is the trend in the league at the moment.

“We’ll see. I mean, it takes two to tango, but it’s certainly something we’re willing to explore. And here and there, Cash has talked to agents about things like that. So, we’ll see. I think it is important. I think it does send a good message to the rest of the young players that we want you in pinstripes for a long time, and we’re going to do what we can, when we can, to make that happen.”

Houston’s cheating scandal has dominated the headlines this offseason, but Steinbrenner seems eager to move on with the new season looming on the horizon.

“I was as upset as anybody when the report came out, but for the good of the game, for the good of baseball, it’s time to move on … I’m focused on 2020. That has to be my only focus right now.”

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full interview with Hal Steinbrenner.

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