Wave goodbye to the Rays in pinstripes

Hot on the heels of Stephen Strasburg committing his future to Washington, the New York Yankees flexed their financial biceps to secure the services of the former Pirates and Astros workhorse, Gerrit Cole. The deal will earn the 29-year-old an average of $36 million per year for the next nine seasons.

Shout it from the rooftops, this is the Yankees we all know and love.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t want to see the Yankees acting like Rays in pinstripes picking up other teams unwanted, low-cost players and turning them into stars. Yes, it is great that Luke Voit and Gio Urshela were transformed, but I want to see that happening in Tampa Bay or Oakland, not in New York.

The Yankees USP is their ability to spend money like no other team.

The losers
The magnitude of the Cole contract left much of California shell-shocked.

The Angels looked on with drooling envy, knowing that they need big things from Dylan Bundy if 2020 is not to be yet another year when Mike Trout’s vacation starts at the end of September.

Anthony Rendon’s arrival in Anaheim is a fantastic addition to the roster, but the rotation doesn’t look good enough to compete in the tough AL West.

Thirty miles north along Highway 5, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are staring at yet another disappointing offseason.

They enjoy their reputation of never wanting to pay top dollar for a top free agent, as shown by failing to land any of the top three free agents in the last five seasons.

2015 offseason

2016 offseason

2017 offseason

2018 offseason

2019 offseason

At some stage, the desire to win the World Series must trump the need to get a bargain. Especially if you haven’t won it since 1988 and doubly-especially if you are running a $3.3 billion franchise.

Did the Yankees out-Moneyball everyone else?
You just have to glance at social media to see how brainwashed many fans have become by the indoctrination of squeezing players’ salaries to get “better value for money” for the billionaire owners.

Suddenly everyone is an expert of “Dollars per WAR” without looking at the bigger picture of “will this elite player improve our lineup?”

But Moneyball wasn’t just about using statistical analysis to find players who are worth more than their salary. It was about identifying market inefficiencies and capitalising on areas ignored by the competition. One area of apparent underappreciation was starting pitchers in their 20s with three straight years of 200-plus innings. The list stretches to just one name, and only the Yankees realised the true worth of such an asset.

Scouring down the back of the sofa for an extra $24 million
The Dodgers offered Cole an eight-year, $300-million contract, with the Angels final offer coming in just south of $300 million. In the end, it took the fourth-largest deal in MLB history, nine years and $324 million, to get the right-hander to New York.

Entirely coincidentally, the difference between the Yankees’ and Dodgers’ offers is almost exactly the same amount as the Yankees are reportedly withholding from Jacoby Ellsbury.

Can they afford it?
Despite spending almost $2 billion on player salaries and the relative lack of success on the field, the value of the New York Yankees franchise has rocketed. Ten years ago they were valued at $1.5 billion which has increased to a staggering $4.6 billion today.

I guess the Gerrit Cole contract won’t hurt them too much.

The light at the end of the tunnel
We all know that the Yankees failed to win a World Series during the 2010s, a period which saw the Nationals win their first-ever title, the Cubs break their 108-year drought, and the Royals win the ultimate prize. The Royals for goodness sake!

Even the Mets have appeared in the World Series more recently than the Yankees.

The Cole signing is the perfect way to start the new decade for the world’s biggest team.

Make sure you are following @BatFlips_Nerds for offseason news, opinion and podcasts – all with a British twist.

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