Yankees feel the sting over Gerrit Cole’s muted response to opt-out question

Gerrit Cole in action during a Yankees' 5-1 win over Detroit at Yankee Stadium on September 5, 2023.
NYY

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The New York Yankees’ performance this season has led to widespread speculation if Gerrit Cole will exercise his contractual opt-out clause after the next season. The suspense grew more on Wednesday, when he refused to answer questions about it.

“I’m just not going to comment on it,” Gerrit Cole told SNY when asked if 2024 might mark his last year with the New York Yankees.

Though he appeared neither to confirm or deny, Gerrit Cole displayed extreme politeness while preferring to have a muted response after another impressive performance in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Detroit.

Gerrit Cole’s response was in stark contrast to others

Without delving too deeply into interpreting a lack of comment, it’s worth noting that players can respond to this question in various ways. For instance, in 2022’s spring training, Jacob deGrom definitively stated his intention to opt out of his Mets contract at the end of that season. While Max Scherzer explained that the inclusion of the opt-out clause in his contract was based on the context and his desire to pursue a championship in the third year. However, he acknowledged that Steve Cohen had since demonstrated a strong commitment to winning the World Series and was willing to do whatever it took to achieve that goal.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in 2023

But, Gerrit Cole’s response, or rather, his lack of response, falls into a category of possible reactions, which includes the quick and definitive answer like deGrom, the elaborate analysis like Scherzer, and in his case, choosing not to comment at all. This at least provides some insight into how he’s handling the question.

What’s undeniably clear is that if Gerrit Cole, who’s currently 33, continues to perform at the high level he’s maintained since signing a nine-year, $324 million contract in late 2020, he’ll be in line for another substantial free-agent deal.

Amidst a struggling team, Gerrit Cole stands out as one of the few shining beacons. Nevertheless, as the Yankees’ fortunes continue to dwindle, and their championship aspirations seem elusive, Cole may find himself contemplating his future in the Bronx. The presence of an opt-out clause in his contract only adds to the uncertainty.

There’s a growing sense among fans that Gerrit Cole may be experiencing doubts about his decision to join the New York Yankees in 2020. His quest for a championship appears no closer to fruition than it did during his time with the Astros in 2019. Back then, the Astros’ unexpected loss to the wild-card Nationals in the World Series left everyone stunned.

With Gerrit Cole nearing his 33rd birthday in less than a month, he likely has around three more prime years ahead of him. The pivotal decision he faces revolves around whether to invest those years with the Yankees or explore opportunities elsewhere. If he opts to depart, it won’t be solely driven by financial considerations. For Cole, achieving a championship is paramount to completing his legacy.

The Yankees ace is on a roll this season

Yankees Gerrit Cole celebrates as Stanton hit his 400th homer vs. theTigers at Yankee Stadium on Sept 5, 2023.
NYY

During Tuesday’s game, Gerrit Cole once again demonstrated why he’s considered a genuine ace. Even though he hadn’t managed a single swing-and-miss with his four-seam fastball that night, the Yankees ace somehow summoned a 98-mile-per-hour pitch on his 104th and final delivery, striking out Javier Baez with a potential go-ahead run on base, and preserving a 1-1 tie.

When Andy Martino of SNY inquired about where that fastball came from on such a humid evening when he was already fatigued, Cole responded:

“I was saving it,” he said, smiling.

This instance showcased why he’s currently the leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award.

Now, when it comes to Gerrit Cole’s opt-out, it’s not as simple as the situations with deGrom and Scherzer. If he opts out following the upcoming season, the Yankees could counter it by appending a tenth year to the contract, worth $36 million. This additional year would extend Cole’s commitment to the team into his age-38 season.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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