TAMPA — In some ways, the end of the 2024 season is a long way off, especially for Gerrit Cole, who has said he expects to lead the Yankees rotation for many years to come.
But as one of the top pitchers in the game, Cole can impact an entire free-agent class, as he did before he signed his nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees prior to the 2020 season.
That contract included an opt-out clause for Cole following the 2024 season, when he would have four years and $144 million remaining.
At that time, he’ll be just about the same age as Jacob deGrom is now — as deGrom will this season, Cole will turn 35.
And deGrom just signed a five-year, $185 million contract to go to the Rangers, meaning he’s got one more year at slightly more per season ($37 million to $36 million) than Cole would have on his remaining deal with the Yankees.
Asked about how his opt-out and deGrom’s contract might affect his future, Cole laughed and said he hadn’t connected the two.
“It’s not something that occurred to me,’’ Cole said.
Cole has had plenty of success in The Bronx and the Yankees have been pleased with his performance since he arrived as their ace — and they can nullify Cole’s opt-out by adding another year at $36 million to the end of the original contract.
But Cole said he and his agent, Scott Boras, put the opt-out in the contract for a reason and it could give him flexibility in the future.
Asked if he would “rule out” using the opt-out after 2024, Cole said, “It’s in there. Both sides agreed to it, so it’s in there.”
Cole added, “It’s more of a mutual deal if I opt out.”
He also insisted it hasn’t crossed his mind at all.
“I haven’t even put any thought into it or what [deGrom’s] deal does for the marketplace,” said Cole, who is scheduled to have one more Grapefruit League start before Opening Day.
“I’ll have more years [on the contract] then and at some point, there’s probably some math involved,” Cole said.
Putting himself in that future spot, Cole said of his potential decision, “It’s probably [going to] come down to what my family wants to do and where we’re at at that point. But we’ve got a lot more work to do here first.”
The 32-year-old Cole has proven to be extremely durable, which is something deGrom has not.
Cole is coming off a season in which he exceeded 200 innings pitched for the fifth time in his career.
He made an MLB-high 33 starts in 2023 and led the majors with 257 strikeouts.
On the flip side, Cole gave up a career and American League-high 33 home runs.
He’s been pleased, for the most part, with how he’s pitched this spring and will look to build on his résumé before he comes to that opt-out decision.
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