Yankees’ ace will likely opt out of his contract after 2024, but there’s a catch

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are preparing to spend big this upcoming season to roster one of the best teams in the game. Having already acquired Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres and his estimated $30 million in arbitration, the Yanks are also dead set on adding Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the starting rotation. His contract could exceed $300 million, significantly increasing their total active payroll for the 2024 season and beyond.

However, their ace, Gerrit Cole, has an interesting off-season ahead after the 2024 campaign. Cole has an out in his contract at 34 years old. That would allow him to sign an extension elsewhere while giving up four years and $144 million remaining on his deal. Considering he just won the AL Cy Young Award, it is fair to say that he still has tremendous value and is pitching at the top of his game.

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The Yankees Have a Security Blanket

There is no indication that Cole wants to move on from the Yankees since this is his boyhood club, and they are trying to make a significant push for a World Series in the near future.

Fortunately for the Yankees, they can void the out if Cole were to exercise it next off-season. In fact, the likelihood is that he does opt out of the deal since the only way the Yankees can stop him from leaving is by adding a 10th year during his 2029 season at $36 million. This would mean that, even at 38 years old, Cole would be earning a substantial salary.

Considering Justin Verlander is still playing well in his age-40 season, hosting a 3.22 ERA across 162.1 innings pitched last year, it is safe to say that Cole can do the same at two years younger. Even Max Scherzer is 39 years old and has performed well over the past few years, so given Gerrit’s longevity and consistent bill of health, it is safe to say the Yankees will add the year to his contract without any hesitation. He could still be ace for the next five seasons, and adding Yamamoto to the mix would only reinforce the group.

To round things up, Cole does have an opt-out after the 2024 season at his disposal, but the only reason he would exercise it is for the Yankees to void it and promptly add a 10th year at $36 million. This would protect his long-term interests, and if he regresses significantly, he will still be paid fair compensation. It is a win-win for both sides, especially since Cole could still be elite later in his career.