Ace Gerrit Cole yearns for Yankees legacy that transcends Cy Young in pinstripes

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is at Tampa during the 2024 spring training.

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Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole strives hard to go beyond his usual role on the mound for the New York Yankees. He serves as a mentor to young pitchers, provides advice to managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, and engages with the media, demonstrating his well-rounded approach. While comfortable in his established position, Gerrit Cole’s unwavering pursuit of improvement remains evident.

His journey from a promising prospect to a dominant pitcher showcases a unique combination of talent and dedication. While quantifying his on-field value might be challenging, Gerrit Cole’s impact extends far beyond statistics.

Widely considered the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole’s consistency and reliability make him a cornerstone for the Yankees. His role as the ace is unquestioned, with manager Aaron Boone rarely needing to formally announce him as the Opening Day starter. This unspoken understanding reflects the unanimous respect Gerrit Cole commands within the team.

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But Gerrit Cole is not merely happy with all that. Following his stellar 2023 season and Cy Young Award win, is already focused on further development. He has expressed a desire to refine his cutter and improve his command, demonstrating his ongoing dedication to improvement.

Though the award gives him pride and a special moment for him, Gerrit Cole’s real aim is to get a place in the galaxy of Yankees legends, which includes names like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Babe Ruth.

“It was a real special honor that filled me with a lot of pride. I’m just really happy to do it in this uniform and represent this organization,” he said. “There’s been a lot of great players here. And so I feel like I kind of actually did something, like a little bit relative to Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Babe Ruth. It’s like, well, maybe I’m not those players. But you feel like you’re contributing to the greater brand.”

Gerrit Cole remains Yankees workhorse

Gerrit Cole’s record-breaking $324 million contract seems increasingly justified in light of his consistent performance. Durability remains a significant concern for pitchers in today’s game. Yet, he has demonstrated resilience during a challenging season for the Yankees, marked by numerous injuries. Despite the team’s struggles, his stellar performance earned him a unanimous Cy Young Award, an achievement potentially overshadowed by the surrounding turmoil. Notably, Gerrit Cole led Major League Baseball with a 7.4 pitching WAR and a 0.98 WHIP, while also topping the American League in innings pitched (209) and ERA (2.63). His stability throughout the season earned comparisons to the iconic “Calm Amidst the Storm” advertising campaign.

His Cy Young win marked a significant achievement, especially considering a strong performance during his time with the Houston Astros, where Gerrit Cole played alongside another dominant pitcher, Justin Verlander. While arguably comparable to Verlander, who has received Cy Young recognition multiple times, his 2023 win represented a unique personal accomplishment. The text avoids overly descriptive adjectives like “perfectionist” and focuses on factual details about Gerrit Cole’s aspirations and his reflection on the Cy Young win. It maintains a neutral tone by avoiding subjective interpretations of his emotions.

Gerrit Cole is pitching at the Yankees facility in Tampa prior to the start of their spring training.
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Gerrit Cole is pleased to achieve this in pinstripes. But he wants to have a feeling of making a contribution to the legacy of the team as Ruth, Mantle, and Ford did, although he recognized that he may not be on the same level as those legendary players.

Gerrit Cole, currently 33 years old, embarked on the next chapter of his career with the New York Yankees in 2020. This decision came after considering several possibilities, including joining his hometown team, the Los Angeles Angels. Although discussions with the Angels’ owners, Arte and Carole Moreno, were initially promising, their final offer of approximately $235 million fell short of his expectations and was notably less than the offer they extended to Anthony Rendon.

The Yankees, however, were more determined to acquire Gerrit Cole. Their initial offer signaled their commitment, mirroring the seven-year, $245 million contract awarded to Stephen Strasburg earlier in 2019. They further bolstered their offer by adding two additional years, recognizing Gerrit Cole’s younger age and superior performance compared to other free agents at the time. This comprehensive offer ultimately secured Cole’s signature.

As part of the contract, Gerrit Cole has the option to opt-out after the 2024 season. If he chooses to do so, the Yankees can retain him by offering a 10th year at $36 million. This extension would likely be exercised by the Yankees, making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history with a total contract value of $360 million, surpassing both the current record held by Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto ($325 million) and Cole’s previous contract.

Gerrit Cole, widely regarded as the best pitcher in baseball, demonstrates a strong commitment to extending his playing career as long as possible. When asked about his longevity, he expresses a firm resolve to continue pitching, demonstrating a sense of responsibility to maximize his exceptional talent. In his own words, he aims to “squeeze all the juice out of the lemon I was given.”

Fueling his drive is a singular, unwavering ambition: winning the World Series with the Yankees. While acknowledging the potential for a formidable pitching duo with the possible acquisition of Blake Snell, Gerrit Cole also expresses an unwavering belief in the young pitchers he mentors, stating, “I haven’t seen anybody with bad stuff here.”

Ultimately, Gerrit Cole’s focus remains firmly set on achieving the ultimate championship title, highlighting his dedication and unwavering pursuit of this singular goal.

The ace expressed that winning a World Series would be the most gratifying achievement. Gerrit Cole acknowledged that it is a challenging endeavor but noted that the difficulty is what motivates him to continue striving for success. Additionally, there is the persistent pursuit of excellence.

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