With a two-run home run in the first inning of the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Rangers, Angels outfielder both tied Cody Bellinger for the major league lead in home runs and set a new single-season career-high at 42. Trout’s blast opened the scoring, staking the Halos to an early lead.
Trout is batting .300/.445/.669 on the year. The dinger leaves him two RBI shy of 100 for the year, and he’s already at 101 runs scored. MLB can already inscribe Trout’s name on the 2019 AL MVP Award. Per FanGraphs, he has 8.5 WAR, which is almost a full 3.0 WAR more than his next closest competitor, Xander Bogaerts (5.6). The difference between Trout and Bogaerts at No. 2 is about the difference between Bogaerts and Jonathan Villar (2.8) at No. 25.
Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs show Trout as already having matched future first-ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in career WAR. Jeter played for 20 seasons while Trout has been in the league nine years. Baseball Reference lists Jeter and Trout at 72.4 while FanGraphs has them locked at 73.2. The tie won’t last long. This is not to take anything away from Jeter. This is meant to illustrate just how legendary Trout has been since debuting in 2011.
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.