Yankees clubhouse manager helps seal Gerrit Cole deal with wine

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Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees for $324 million and, one suspects, that the $324 million was the primary inducement for him to make that deal. But the Yankees sweetened the offer with aromas of cedar, red berry, pipe tobacco and a whiff of toasted oak on the finish.

That may sound like a snooty wine review, but it’s apt because some snooty wine helped the Yankees win Cole.

During Cole’s introductory press conference yesterday, he explained how he has become close with Yankee Stadium visiting clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza over the years. He noted that, on one occasion, Cole showed Cucuzza photos of a vacation he took to Florence, and a meal he had which was accompanied by a Masseto Merlot, which is apparently an amazing bottle of wine that registers in the “Ace Starting Pitcher” price range.

Cucuzza remembered this and tipped off the Yankees brass. When they went to court Cole at his California home earlier this month, they brought him a couple of bottles. Cole:

Aaron [Boone] brought a couple bottles of it and one of the vintages they brought was one of the exact same vintage from the anniversary dinner that my wife and I had in Florence. I was a little bit back on my heels. I remember trying to stay focused on the meeting and not thinking about booze the entire time, but I still couldn’t figure it out.

“When I came home, I was telling (my wife) Amy, ‘How the f— did they pull that off?’ Not many people in the world know that that’s my favorite wine … I laid my head down at like 11:30 at night and didn’t sleep much that day. I flew back up and I was like, ‘LOU!’ I remembered the conversation and I guess it went from Lou to (Brian Cashman) to Boone.”

It’s the little things.

And the big things too. Let’s not undersell that $324 million, OK?