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Yankees Open The Vault for Cole

The New York Yankees landed the biggest prize of the free-agent market, adding Gerrit Cole to their rotation with a record $324 million, nine-year contract on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

 

Cole’s deal established marks for pitchers in total dollars, topping the $245 million, seven-year contract Stephen Strasburg finalized a day earlier to remain with the World Series champion Washington Nationals.

 

Its $36 million average is a record for any player, beating the $35.5 million in outfielder Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels that started last season. Cole gets an even $36 million annually and can opt out after the 2024 season. He also has a full no-trade provision.

 

A 29-year-old right-hander, Cole was baseball’s most dominant pitcher for much of 2019 and helped the Houston Astros come within one win of their second World Series title in three seasons.

 

New York has not won the World Series since 2009 and sought an ace to head a rotation that already includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ or Domingo Germán, who may be suspended at the season’s start under baseball’s domestic violence policy.

 

Cole will compliment a young core of hitters that includes Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez, entering a window when New York thinks it can compete consistently for championships.

 

Cole was drafted by the Yankees in the first round with the 28th overall pick out of high school in 2008 but chose to go to UCLA, then was drafted first overall by Pittsburgh three years later. Traded after the 2017 season, he transformed his career in two seasons with the Astros.

 

He went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 2018, then 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA a major league-high 326 strikeouts last season, finishing second to teammate Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young Award balloting. Just 4-5 in late May, he went 19-0 over his next 25 starts before losing the World Series opener. He won Game 5 and was available to pitch in Game 7 but was never used.

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