The Yankees introduced new ace Gerrit Cole at a press conference on Wednesday as their record nine-year, $324 million contract was finalized. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported a previously unreported detail about Cole’s contract: if Cole opts out of his contract after the 2024 season, the Yankees can choose to void his decision if they add one more year and $36 million to the back end of the deal. That would bring the total value of the contract to 10 years and $360 million.
Cole, 29, will be entering his age-34 season when the decision comes, with Four years and $144 million remaining on the deal. At that point in his career, Cole will be deciding if he can do better on the open market. If he does opt out, the Yankees then have to decide if it’s worth keeping him around for the next five years — his age-34 through age-38 years — and $180 million. It seems unlikely that both Cole opts out and the Yankees handcuff themselves to his mid- and late-30’s seasons.
The Yankees paid a premium for baseball’s top free agent. He’s coming off a season in which he went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts, and 48 walks over 212 1/3 innings. In the postseason, Cole posted a 1.72 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks over 36 2/3 innings, helping lead the Astros back into the World Series where they ultimately lost in seven games. The Yankees, who were stymied by Cole in Game 3 of the ALCS two months ago, are hoping he can bring that magic to the Bronx for at least the first five seasons of the contract.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.