Astros: Is Gerrit Cole MLB’s newest $200 million man

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out Richie Martin #1 of the Baltimore Orioles for his 14th strikeout in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on June 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out Richie Martin #1 of the Baltimore Orioles for his 14th strikeout in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on June 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Where will Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole go during free-agency this winter? The answer could be back home to the west coast.

Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole will be the number one free agent available this winter. Just look over his past two seasons with the Astros, and it’s easy to see why he will be the top pitching target for teams with money to spend.

Cole could also find himself in a rare category as it looks likely that the ace will receive a $200 million contract, something only four other pitchers (Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, and David Price) have been able to secure.

We could potentially be looking at Gerrit Cole getting the biggest deal in MLB history this winter as he is only 29 years old and statistically ahead of the other four when they received their massive deals.

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The biggest question, then, is who is going to fork up the money that this starter is worth.

First up is his current team: the Houston Astros. The Astros won a World Series a couple of years ago, lost in the ALCS last season and are back again this year to try for another trip to the fall classic.

They obviously have a great core and Cole might just want to stay put. The only problem there is the Astros already have more than half of their 2020 salary accounted for without Cole being on the books.

Before the trade deadline, the Astros made a move to acquire Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks to help make the starting rotation even better. Greinke being a member of the $200 million club already eats into that 2020 salary for Houston.

It seems like the Astros will have to see Cole go as having two separate $200 million contracts on the team isn’t feasible.

Then there’s the favorite team to mention when it comes to lots of money and getting anyone they want: the New York Yankees.

Last off-season, the Yankees spent $300 million to acquire names like DJ LeMahieu and Zack Britton. New York will look to re-sign Brett Gardner as well.

Eventually, even the Yankees have a limit to how much money they can throw at a player. Even if they decide to make Cole an offer, would he want to play there? Patrick Corbin didn’t, and it seems like things have worked out well for the Nationals starter.

This brings us to the most interesting piece of the “where will he wind up” puzzle.

Earlier this week, Bob Nightengale of the USA Today tweeted a quote from Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick:

"Josh Reddick doesn’t know who will be able to afford Gerrit Cole this winter but knows Cole would love to go out West. ‘I just hope it’s out of our division,’ Reddick says."

This makes a ton of sense. Cole is a California guy, played for UCLA and probably wants to get back to the beaches after spending time in the Pittsburgh cold and the Houston humidity.

Cole signing with the Astros’ division rivals seems a bit of a reach though. The A’s are never going to spend that kind of money on a free agent.

The Mariners are not in a place where just adding a star to the rotation would help fix their current situation.

The Angels are more intriguing but still don’t come off as a team that will fork over the $200 million-plus needed to acquire Cole. The Angels also have $115 million already wrapped up in only five players on their roster.

That leaves the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres.

The Dodgers will want to find a way to overcome the NLDS collapse but adding Cole could be too big of a hit to the bank account for the team. Still, for both the Dodgers and the Angels, there is the UCLA connection.

The Padres have surprised people the past two seasons with how much they have spent in the off-season, both with the deal for Manny Machado last winter and acquiring Eric Hosmer the year before.

If the team is looking to make a big splash again this year, then a Gerrit Cole signing would do just that. Cole could be the ace surrounded by some solid, young pitching that would only help push San Diego to where they want to go.

Then there’s the Giants, a team who will be without a dominant starter as Madison Bumgarner enters free agency himself. They could replace a one-star pitcher with another by finding a way to sign Cole to a big deal.

He would also have the chance to be on the team with his brother-in-law, San Francisco shortstop, Brandon Crawford. Even with the family connection, a move to the Giants seems unlikely.

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Houston Astros Gerrit Cole will dominate the headlines this winter until he decides where he wants to sign. Any team in the MLB would love to have a pitcher like Cole on their roster. Only few have the money and make sense for the Californian. Whether or not Cole goes West is anyone’s guess.