And we’re off! With the start of the Winter Meetings, the Dodgers should quickly sign Gerrit Cole before other teams have a chance to impact his price.
In 2019, the Dodgers were on the brink of capping off a dynasty with a 106-win regular season and their deepest roster of the decade. Unfortunately, untimely pitching mistakes and poor hitting in the clutch cost the Dodgers an NLDS loss in Game 5 to the Washington Nationals.
But many of you already knew that (at least if you haven’t buried it deep in the back of your mind). The 2020 offseason is one that many analysts have predicted will provide a major windfall in that the Dodgers are predicted to add a star player, either on the mound or at the plate. Beyond Cole, former-Nationals Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon are the other big-time free agents that are available; a trade for one of Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Kris Bryant has reportedly been discussed by the Dodgers’ front office as well.
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The LA front office should certainly be considering all of these pieces, but to me, Cole stands out from the rest of the pack. Not only is he the most dominant pitcher of the last two seasons, but he is also a SoCal native and UCLA baseball alumni. He’s going to be expensive, but he’s worth it, and he’ll give the Dodgers the best rotation in both the National League and in all of baseball.
But why the urgency? Why sign him on the first day of the Winter Meetings? For starters, the New York Yankees are involved. They’re one of the best franchises in all of professional sports, and they’re one of the few teams in the MLB that surpasses the Dodgers’ deep pockets. The Bronx Bombers have lacked a true ace over the past few seasons, and Cole, a favorite of NY general manager Brian Cashman, would slide perfectly into that role.
If the Dodgers want to avoid a bidding war at the end of the offseason with their east coast rivals, they should move quickly and add Cole before the Winter Meetings, where it is more than likely that other stars will be snatched up off the market, increasing Cole’s bargaining power and consequently his price.
With the Winter Meetings taking place in San Diego, there may be added incentive for the NL West San Diego Padres to make a big splash to bring back their city’s prodigal son in Strasburg, a San Diego State University alumni. The team added a veteran leader in Tommy Pham just a few days back, and have been active overall in the weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings, as they’ve added Trent Grisham, Zach Davies, Drew Pomeranz, and Jurickson Profar to play alongside Pham and the rest of their young core.
If the LA front office can bring in Cole before bidding war, they’ll also drive up the price for Strasburg for the Padres (and maybe even the Yankees), while ensuring that they’ll have starting pitching depth from which to make a potential trade for another star (or prospects) with.
Without signing Cole within the next day or two, the Dodgers will not be out of the hunt for the star, but his price certainly won’t get any lower than it is today, with Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, and other star pitchers still out on the free-agent market.