Yankees’ Gerrit Cole could opt out of contract after 2024, but there’s a catch

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are in hot pursuit of more pitching after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They only have four starters at their disposal: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes, and Clarke Schmidt. Prospect Will Warren is expected to serve as a back-end rotation option and bullpen piece next season, with the team desperately needing reinforcements to support the rotation.

The available free agents include Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell, but the Yankees aren’t trying to overspend on the NL Cy Young winner, given his innings limitations and increasing age. Montgomery has been discussed internally, but it depends on the price and whether the Yankees are willing to spend around $125 million to reunite with a player they ended up trading two years ago.

However, the Yankees have another pitching situation to anticipate in 2025: ace Gerrit Cole opting out of his contract. Fortunately, if you’re unaware of the contract stipulations, this is actually a good thing for the Bombers, who have the ability to extend Cole for an extra season if he triggers the opt-out.

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The Yankees Aren’t Losing Gerrit Cole Anytime Soon

It is in Cole’s best interest to opt out of his contract following the 2024 season since the Yankees can void the decision by adding a 10th year during the 2029 season at $36 million. This would give Cole an additional year on his deal and lock in more guaranteed money during his 38-year-old season.

Fortunately, Cole is still at the top of his game, winning the AL Cy Young award this past year at 32 years old. He pitched over 200 innings for the second consecutive season, hosting a 2.63 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.56 strikeouts per nine, 80.4% left-on-base rate, and 39.6% ground ball rate. He produced the lowest number of home runs per nine since 2018 and walked only 2.07 batters per nine.

In other words, he put together a truly elite season, and given the success of players like Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have had in their late 30s, it is safe to say that can still offer tremendous value for years to come.

Of course, pairing him with Yamamoto would’ve been ideal, given he’s a 25-year-old potential superstar. Nonetheless, the Yankees will have to settle for MLB-ready talent, like Montgomery, or trade for Shane Bieber.

One way or another, the Yankees will be introducing new arms to the team over the next few weeks. It is just a matter of how much money they are willing to give or prospects via trade to get the job done.