Report: Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to record nine-year, $324 million contract

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Big news just ahead of midnight at the Winter Meetings in San Diego: per Jon Heyman, the Yankees have signed free agent starter Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million contract. It’s the largest ever contract for a pitcher in terms of length, total value, and average annual value. ESPN’s Jeff Passan adds that the deal allows for Cole to opt out after the fifth year. Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, none of the money in the contract is deferred and Cole received a full no-trade clause.

Stephen Strasburg re-signed with the Nationals on Monday, signing a seven-year, $245 million deal. It was, at the time, the record for a pitcher in terms of total value and AAV while tying the record for length. Cole’s contract eclipsed that by a long shot.

Cole, 29, is coming off a career year in which he paced the league with 326 strikeouts, a 13.8 K/9, and an adjusted ERA of 185. He led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and a 2.64 FIP. He was even better in the postseason, posting a 1.72 ERA with 47 strikeouts across five starts spanning 36 2/3 innings.

The Yankees will put Cole atop a rotation that also includes James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ. After winning the AL East with a 103-59 record last season, adding Cole into the mix should once again make them prohibitive favorites in the division, if not the entire league.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.