Throughout the offseason, the New York Yankees have been considered one of the “front-runners” to acquire Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees and Astros are both top suitors for Cole, but New York likely has an edge with a stronger farm system and better prospects.
“He (Cole) would absolutely be a good fit. He wants the ball and relishes the attention, so the New York spotlight won’t get to him. He enjoys it. If he does end up going to the Yankees, not much will change for him. He’ll still be a bulldog.”
Over his four seasons in Pittsburgh, Stewart has caught Cole 48 times. Having caught Cole on a regular basis, Stewart says that the right-hander’s approach to the game reminds him of his former teammate and current Yankee C.C. Sabathia.
“He’s a lot like CC in that he’s going to give you everything he has, all the time,” Stewart said. “He’s into the game and he’ll be a good example to younger players in the clubhouse with his work ethic. He’s experienced the playoffs and just wants to win. I don’t think he’s gonna be happy until he wins a World Series.”
Cole has a 59-42 record with a 3.50 ERA in 127 starts throughout his first five big league seasons. In 2015, Cole made his first All-Star team, and finished the season with a career-best 19-8 record and a 2.60 ERA.
Although it looked as if he was maturing into one of the game’s best starters, Cole has seen his fair share of struggles over the past two seasons. In his last 54 starts, the right-hander is a combined 19-22 with a 4.07 ERA.
When asked about Cole’s struggles, Stewart, a current free agent, said that a change of scenery might help get him back on track.
“He’s (Cole) been in a smaller market where you have to grind it out and battle to produce wins. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the Yankees’ payroll. With the lineup the Yankees have, you know the offense can pick you up. I think he would like playing in New York.’’
The Yankees have World Series aspirations, and would definitely get a boost in their starting rotation if they are able to acquire Cole. However, the Yankees currently have five starters, and might not feel the need to add an another pitcher at such a high price.
Rumors will continue to swirl, but time will only tell if the Yankees prioritize adding another starter. If the front office feels that it is a necessary move to make, trade talks for Cole could definitely heat up in the near future.