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.