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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal predicted that it would be the Phillies, not a West Coast team, that would ultimately land top free agent Gerrit Cole.
Gerrit Cole is the top free agent available this offseason. (Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)
On MLB Network’s “MLB Now,” Rosenthal addressed the notion that Cole would ultimately end up in Los Angeles, saying, “The reason I’m predicting [Cole to the Phillies] is to make a larger point that the assumption that Gerrit Cole will go to a West Coast team is just an assumption. He’s going to go to the team that offers him the most money and the Phillies last year offered Bryce Harper the most money. They spread it out over 13 years, and that’s how they got Bryce Harper.”
Like Harper, Cole is a Scott Boras client and is reportedly seeking a contract north of $300 million, which would shatter the record for the biggest contract given to a starting pitcher. The Phillies would likely have to go over the tax for Cole, with roughly $42 million in room and plenty of other holes to fill. But he is the kind of player worth entering the tax for, and owner John Middleton said that they would have no problem entering the tax as long as it was to make the team a World Series contender.
Cole, 29, just narrowly missed out on the AL Cy Young Award in 2019 but is coming off an incredible season. In 33 games, Cole went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and struck 326 batters in 212.1 innings. He was absolutely dominant and is the best starting pitcher available in free agency in recent memory.
In 2019, the Phillies rotation ranked 23rd in baseball with a 7.6 fWAR. Cole alone had a 7.4 fWAR, and would serve as a massive upgrade. He and Aaron Nola would immediately become one of the best tandems in baseball, and the Phillies would instantly become a contender in the NL East for the years to come.