SAN DIEGO – A widely anticipated reunion took place on Monday, the first day of baseball's annual winter gatherings: Stephen Strasburg, World Series M.V.P. who had become a free agent again signed with the Washington Nationals.
Strasburg opted out of his previous contract with the Nationals and withheld the guaranteed $ 100 million within four years to replace it with a new contract that would bring him $ 245 million in seven years.
The deal broke two records: it's the most expensive contract ever awarded to a pitcher (it beats David Price's seven-year deal at $ 217 million in 2015) and it has the highest average annual value for a pitcher (over 34, $ 4 million a year for Zack Greinke) also from 2015).
However, these marks may not last long.
The deal with Strasburg brought Gerrit Cole (29) onto the market, another free agent who is two years younger than Strasburg and who was probably the best pitcher in baseball last season. The Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, who are considered to be the main candidates for Cole's signature, have most likely followed the numbers in Strasbourg's new deal closely.
"It's very rare for a team legacy and a player legacy to continue as we have in our game," said Scott Boras, Strasbourg's agent, at a press conference on Monday to announce his client's new deal. Boras distracted questions about Cole, one of his other customers.
The Yankees met with Strasburg, a right-handed player last week, who scored 23-6 last season (including postseason) with a earned run average of 3.12 and 298 eliminations. However, many saw it as a replacement option her main goal: Cole, the right-hander, who with 2.39 E.R.A. and 373 strikes.
While deferrals in Strasburg's business are lowering today's value, $ 245 million and seven years are still the numbers to beat. The question most observers asked on Monday was: Will any team be willing to offer Cole anything near $ 300 million in eight to nine years?
The Yankees have tried twice to acquire Cole – to poach him from high school and act for him when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates – but were unsuccessful. You will likely have to defeat the angels to succeed on your third attempt. Cole grew up in Southern California and has roots for both teams.
The Angels have money to spend, a greater need for pitching, and the desire to get their star outfielder Mike Trout into the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Yankees – who have lost American League Championship Series to Cole's youngest team, the Houston Astros, twice in the past three years – acknowledge the need to acquire a dominant # 1 starter to get them across the mountain bring and get into their first World Series since 2009.
A contingent of Yankees officials and coaches met with Cole in Southern California last week. But they also brought Andy Pettitte, the five-time World Series winner with the Yankees (and a former Astro), with Cole about his experience in New York and how he thrived there.
Long-time Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was due to arrive in San Diego, the winter meeting place, to continue the persecution of Cole on Monday. At least the bar is now set.
Tyler Kepner contributed to the reporting.