NEW YORK (AP) – Gerrit Cole brought along a sign for the news conference to announce his signing with the New York Yankees: a crinkled board that read â€œYankee Fan Today Tomorrow Forever.”
Then 11, Cole was caught on camera holding up that message in the seats at Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix. The lettering of the tape he used has faded from blue to tan in the years since.
He spurned the Yankees when they drafted him 28th overall in 2008, choosing to enroll at UCLA. He signed with Pittsburgh three years later after he was selected first overall. Now as a free agent, he finally was fitted for pinstripes, agreeing to a record $324 million, nine-year contract.
â€œIt was my dream. I had a second opportunity to chase it,” he said.
Cole put on a No. 45 jersey, the number that had belonged to first baseman Luke Voit. The 29-year-old right-hander’s beard was newly shorn to comply with Yankees team rules.
â€œHe cleans up nice, doesn’t he?â€ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Cole had been known for a scruffy look.
â€œI’ve experienced razor burn now for the first time,” he said.
Cole’s deal is the largest for a pitcher in both its total and its average annual value of $36 million.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was “blown away” by â€œhis passion for what he does, his ability to articulate that passion.â€
It appears to be the longest contract for a pitcher since Wayne Garland’s $2.3 million, 10-year deal with Cleveland before the 1976 season.
Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA and a major league-leading 326 strikeouts for Houston last season.
His wife, Amy, the sister of San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford, watched the news conference from the dais.
New York forfeited its second- and fifth-highest draft picks, roughly No. 62 and No. 164 overall overall. Houston gets an extra pick as compensation, approximately No. 74.
To clear a roster spot, the Yankees designated right-hander Chance Adams for assignment.
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