The free agent prize of the 2019-2020 free agency is pitcher Gerrit Cole. The Phillies have a clear need for starting pitching and the team still has money to spend, albeit maybe not the "stupid money" of last offseason. According to a report, the Phillies will be in on Cole, but there are many other teams as well.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports there are many involved:
Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Phillies among many teams to show interest in top free agent starter Gerrit Cole. Giants were busy hiring GM/manager, Nats could be if Stras doesn’t work out, incumbent Astros say they haven’t given up. Record deal for SP a certainty, ? is by how much.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 14, 2019
So how much would a record deal be?
So far the largest deal is David Price's seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. That's an average of $31 million a season. Max Scherzer got $210 million over seven seasons, and Zach Grenke received six years, but at the largest rate on an average annual value - $34.4 million per season.
Does this mean Cole needs seven seasons at $35 million per season? Eight years? The Phillies can probably suck up one year of Jake Arrieta on the books and replace him with cheaper talent, such as Spencer Howard or Adonis Medina in a year. So while the move may be uncomfortable, the Phillies could make it work.
The report from Jayson Stark of the Athletic on Tuesday suggested that the Phillies will try to be opportunists; if Cole is sitting available at the end, the club could be the last man standing. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak says that they will be willing to go big for the right player.
Could Cole be that player? He very well could be. But there will be many other teams to contend with for his services.