Gerrit Cole’s opt-out fears take centerstage as Yankees struggle

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium in 2023.

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Ace Gerrit Cole remains one of the bright spots amid a slumping team. However, the slide of the Yankees to a darker period and the inability to win titles may force him to rethink his time in the Bronx. There are apprehensions as Gerrit Cole’s contract has an opt-out clause.

At present, the Yankees are 6.5 games away from the last Wild Card position and they are struggling to win games making a title chase unthinkable. An aged and injured team may not pose a serious threat to competitors. This may motivate Gerrit Cole to look for better chances with other teams capable to win championships.

Gerrit Cole’s opt-out sword hanging over the Yankees

As the New York Yankees are getting close to ending their worst season since 1992, it’s important not to overlook the impact this might have on the years ahead, including 2024 and beyond. There are concerns over

Fans are starting to think why Gerrit Cole might be feeling unsure about choosing to play for his old team and joined the Yankees in 2020. He’s not any closer to winning a championship now than he was when he played for the Astros in 2019. Back then, the Astros were really surprised when they lost to the wild-card Nationals in the World Series.

Gerrit Cole left his old team and became a free agent. He signed a contract with Hal Steinbrenner for a lot of money and believed that joining the Yankees, who are known for their history of winning, was a good move toward winning a ring. But Gerrit Cole was unable to do so while his former teammates in Houston got the cherished ring, the ultimate aim of a baseball player.

Gerrit Cole in action during a Yankees' 5-2 win over Royals, on July 22
New York Yankees

His reaction to the Yankees’ collapse in the ninth inning against the Marlins on Sunday was like that of a zombie. He had a distant look in his eyes like he was lost in thought. His eyes seemed completely empty, showing no emotion at all.

Gerrit Cole is probably going to win his first Cy Young Award. However, the ace starter must not be that in his mind when the Marlins were scoring five runs off the relief pitchers Clay Holmes and Tommy Kahnle.

Cole needs the motivation to stay with the Yankees

Gerrit Cole made a decision to join the Yankees so he could win awards. He agreed to a contract worth $324 million for nine years, which means he gets $36 million each year. The starter did this because he was determined to win a championship ring, just like other players like Max Scherzer, who has one, and Justin Verlander, who has two.

Right now, all he’s got is the recognition of being the top pitcher on a team that’s in last place and a ring is a far cry to date.

Let’s talk about 2024, which is in the middle of Gerrit Cole’s time with the Yankees. Because of his agent Scott Boras, he can choose to leave after the next season.

Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees
Dom

The Yankees have signed many older players to contracts that last a long time, but these players are getting worse quickly. The team relies too much on right-handed batters and not enough on top players. They also have players like Billy McKinney and Jake Bauers, who aren’t considered the best. Not much was done to make the team better during the trade deadline.

Again, the feeling of being just okay is very strong for the Yankees. But not for an ace like Gerrit Cole. Apart from Aaron Judge, there wasn’t even one player who has gotten better after joining the Yankees.

Gerrit Cole is turning 33 in less than a month, so he might have around three more years of being at his best. He needs to choose whether to spend those years with the Yankees or go somewhere else. If he decides to leave, it won’t be about the money. Having a championship is important for Cole’s legacy to be truly complete.

However, it won’t be solely his choice to leave – the Yankees also have a big say. They can prevent Gerrit Cole from opting out by extending his contract for another year. If they offer an extra $36 million, the ace starter would automatically continue playing for them until 2029.

But, Steinbrenner needs to decide if it’s a good choice to pay Gerrit Cole a lot of money when he’s 38 years old. To make it clearer, the Yankees need to figure out if they can still be a strong team after 2024. If they’re planning to rebuild, it has to be a fast one, like they did in 2016. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a reason to keep Gerrit Cole on the team beyond his best years.

Right now, the pitching rotation isn’t doing well. Gerrit Cole is the only strong point. On the other hand, the team’s lineup relies heavily on DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton. Gleyber Torres didn’t become the top-tier star the Yankees thought he would be; he’s a really good player but not the superstar they were expecting. Even though Anthony Volpe has been hitting home runs more than expected, people are still unsure about his overall performance, especially his not-so-good .674 OPS.

Also, there’s Boone, with whom Gerrit Cole gets along and has a good relationship. They work well together. But unless things change a lot, Steinbrenner will need to deal with the fact that Boone doesn’t have much control or influence in the dugout or among the players. Boone’s way of involving everyone and making decisions together was great when the Yankees were doing really well, winning 100 games in 2018 and 2019. He was the perfect choice to lead a strong team. However, nowadays Boone seems unsure about what to do as his team is struggling and might end up with a record of 82-80.

Fans are giving a standing ovation to Yankees ace Gerrit Cole after his 24th double-digit strikeout game in Coors Field.
AP

After the events on Monday, Boone’s reactions were sharp. He didn’t react that way when the Yankees let go of a four-run lead and wasted another great performance by Gerrit Cole on Sunday. But a data later, he issued a short warning:

“Forget October. Forget September. That’s not the focus, and it never is, frankly, even when you’re in the driver’s seat,’’ Boone said. “We’re scuffling our (butts) off and we need to do better. Take some personal pride.”

“And it’s not fun, getting knocked down and beat up, especially when you wear this uniform.’’

The Yankees are moving slowly and are currently the worst team in the AL East. They haven’t been in last place since 1990. Even before that, it was 1966. This kind of fall is as rare as Haley’s Comet. The Yankees hardly ever perform this poorly.

Gerrit Cole has about one more year to decide if he wants to keep dealing with this very tough situation. Until now, he’s been an amazing top player, a good teammate, and a positive force in the team’s clubhouse. Nonetheless, if he doesn’t have a significant performance in October, is that sufficient to stop Gerrit Cole from leaving?

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Gerrit Cole’s opt-out fears take centerstage as Yankees struggle

  1. The only thing Cole regrets is not making his opt-out one year sooner. I’m sure both him and Judge are wondering if they made the right decision by signing long term. Hal and lost-man promised there in it to win it and told judge they would build around him….How’s that working out???

    As many trades he has made that have blown up in our faces just recently and no clue with player development lost-man is going to cause Cole to opt-out! How in the hell he still has a job with this organization is BS!!

    Been a Yankee fan for over 50 years and will be turning 60 later this year. Beginning to have serious concerns if I will ever see another championship in my lifetime with all these clowns in place!!!

  2. I will turn 82 this August 30th and went to my first Yankee game at the age of 4 Saw the great JOE D the Mick,Yogi so this my is my 77th season and I still feel they are the greatest team in baseball and I will a yankee till the day I die .

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