- Gerrit Cole, the top free agent pitcher on the market, is headed to the New York Yankees, according to reports.
- Once official, Cole's $324 million contract will be the fourth largest deal in MLB history.
- The MLB and MLBPA also announced other news at the Winter Meetings, including the partnership with Sony Corporation.
SAN DIEGO – The New York Yankees have won the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, according to multiple reports.
When super-agent Scott Boras held his media session on Tuesday at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, the free-agent pitcher was the main topic of discussion, and now he will be the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball.
Various outlets, including ESPN and MLB Network, report the Yankees and Cole have agreed on a nine-year deal valued at roughly $324 million. The deal comes a day after the Washington Nationals announced another Boras-negotiated contract for 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player Stephen Strasburg — a seven-year deal valued at $245 million.
Cole's reported deal will make his contract the largest signed by a pitcher and at $36 million, the highest Average Annual Value in the MLB, according to Spotrac. Until the reported deal, Strasburg's contract was the largest signed by a pitcher with an AAV of $35 million, according to Spotrac. Cole's AAV passes Strasburg, and Astros right-hander Zack Greinke (roughly $34.1 million per season).
Rounding out the remaining pitchers with an AAV of $30 million or more is Astros pitcher Justin Verlander ($33 million), Boston Red Sox lefty David Price ($31 million), Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($31 million), and Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer ($30 million).
Cole spent last season with the American League champions Houston Astros, leading the league with 326 strikeouts and compiling a 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA. He also finished second on the team with 212.1 innings pitched.
Once official, Cole's contract will be the fourth largest deal in MLB history behind Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton ($325 million), Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper ($330 million), and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout ($426.5 million).
Padres third baseman Manny Machado is the only other player with a contract valued at $300 million or more.
Retired MLB first baseman Ryan Howard made an appearance at the Winter Meetings and discussed Strasburg's deal, which didn't surprise him.
Howard, who played with the Philadelphia Phillies and posted career earnings of roughly $190 million in 13 seasons, said the contract is confirmation Strasburg grew as an all-around pitcher increasing his ability to "mix things up" instead of relying too much on fastballs.
"He's got the sharp breaking ball," said Howard, who is currently a partner at SeventySix Capital, a venture capital firm based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. "He's got the changeup, which really for me has been the difference-maker for him. He's really gotten control of that changeup and being able to throw it at any point in any count."
"He's developed into a pitcher," Howard continued. "He's gotten seasoned. Now, he keeps (hitters) off balance."
Joined by Jennie Finch, an Olympic gold medalist, and MLB Youth Softball Ambassador, Howard appeared at the meetings to announce the league is accepting applications for the 2020 Scotts Field Refurbishment Program.
The program will distribute a $200,000 grant to four baseball fields ($50,000 each) in communities that need the playing areas refurbished. In providing the grants, the league is hoping to keep playing fields maintained as it looks to continue growing the game for youth throughout the country.
To become eligible, the MLB requires an organization to provide youth baseball and softball "programming to youth in underserved areas."
The program has assisted in renovating over 20 fields across the country, including an area in East Harlem used by the DREAM baseball and softball program. Since 2016, the league said its distributed roughly $1.5 million to pay for field renovations.
Eligible programs have until Jan. 31 to apply via the league's website.
The league and MLBPA announced a multi-year deal with Sony Interactive Entertainment to continue the development and distribution of its video game, "MLB The Show."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the announcement added Sony would make the game available on other consoles beyond its PlayStation platform beginning in 2021. The move could mean Microsoft Xbox users will finally be able to purchase "MLB The Show" for the first time on the gaming system.
CNBC contacted a Sony spokesperson who declined to share more specifics of the deal.
The MLB also announced its first regular-season games would be played in Mexico City next season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will host the Padres in a two-game set on April 18-19 at the new Alfredo Harp Helu Stadium. The baseball park was built by Harp Helu, who has a minority ownership stake in the Padres.
Harp Helu previously owned Banamex, one of the most prominent banks in Mexico (now owned by Citigroup under the name Citibanamex). He currently ranks number 1,818 on the Forbes billionaire list with a net worth of $1.2 billion.
The Winter Meetings continue on Wednesday with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expected to meet with the media.