Yes, the New York Yankees paid an obscene, unfathomable sum of $324 million for nine years to Gerrit Cole. But it makes perfect sense.
Skeptics – and and freaked-out Mets fans – will grumble that it is too much money – and argue, WHAT IF COLE GETS HURT???
Yankees diehards can agree that the money is unimaginable – much less, for a starting pitcher who can influence a game only once or twice a week.
What if Cole, as expected, fills the Yankees' glaring need for an ace and leads the Yankees to the franchise's first championship since 2009? The unquenchable base will no longer gripe about how much money Cole is getting. They'll be too busy planning their celebratory day in the Canyon of Heroes to worry about such trivialities.
Remember, when C.C. Sabathia was the prime free agent starting pitcher on the block, before the start of the 2009 season? He followed the script and paved the way for the Yankees to reach the promised land in his first season in the Bronx. Now, nobody bitches that he hasn't been great in a few years.
The Amazon Effect
The Yankees quietly signed a deal with Amazon to allow well-heeled followers to stream some Yankees games during the 2020 season. Suddenly, the Yankees are flush with even more cash than usual, thanks to modern technology.
Amazon figures the pact is a bargain because of the Yankees' glittering brand awareness. While the Yankees worry about thwarting the Boston Red Sox, Amazon is obsessed with topping Netflix. Maybe Amazon will give Cole a free $99-a year package now.
On the Field
The deal also makes sense on the diamond. The scandal-soaked Houston Astros, the Yankees' nemesis in 2017 and 2019, will now have to find a way to make up the 20 victories that Cole accounted for last season. Further, if the Yankees face the Astros again next October in the post-season, the Yankees can roll out the best pitcher in the American League and immediately gain a huge psychological advantage, at the start.
The Cole deal will also pay off down the road. The Yankees have, again, shown the baseball world of players and agents that they mean business. What might happen when Pete Alonso, the Mets' phenom, comes up for free agency? Or the next ballyhooed hurler? Those stars and their representatives will smugly wait for the Yankees to arrive with a typically lights out offer. If nothing else, the specter of the Yankees will drive up the prices for other teams.
Will Cole's arrival guarantee a championship? Of course not. Again, he can only work his magic once or twice a week. And what if the good old media crush that New York is known for swallows up this native of Newport Beach, Calif., who has pitched in Pittsburgh and Houston to date?
Sports fans are notoriously fickle and even two-faced. Did you hear the New England Patriots fans boo Tom Brady & Co, as their Super Bowl champs trudged to the locker room at half time on Sunday? The team's crime? The Kansas City Chiefs were dominating the Pats to that point in the game. If Cole's earned run average soars about 3.00, he can expect a traditional Bronx cheer.
The Yankees can feel good about the mammoth decision. With Cole, they have the most coveted free agent on the market, the best pitcher in the American League and an answer to the crosstown Mets' ace, Jacob deGrom.
Before the team acquired Cole, it was probably the odds-on favorite to win the title in 2020. No guarantees, for sure. Now it seems like the championship is the Yankees' to lose.
See you in the Canyon of Heroes.