Chicago Cubs: In another world, Gerrit Cole would be a perfect fit

(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) /

Major payroll limitations have all but guaranteed the Cubs won’t pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason, despite a clear need in the starting rotation.

In the midst of free agency with the annual Winter Meetings underway from San Diego, the Chicago Cubs still have their work cut out for them. While the team has many holes to fill in order to contend in 2020, their pitching (both starting and relief) is likely at the top of the shopping list. In an ideal world, adding superstar starting pitcher Gerrit Cole would completely transform the pitching staff.

Simply put, Cole is one of the best starting pitchers in all of Major League Baseball. He was already an above-average starter when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates between 2013 and 2017, but he became one of the elite during his time with the Houston Astros. The big right-hander has become a household name, and one of the biggest names at the center of all free agency rumors.

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The right hander’s baseball career began when he was drafted in the first round by the New York Yankees in 2008, but he did not sign. In 2011, he was drafted in the first round again but this time by the Pirates, and they proceeded to sign him. After spending five years with the Pirates, Pittsburgh sent Cole to Houston via trade and he was them until he was granted free agency after the 2019 season.

During his time with the Pirates, Cole had a 3.50 ERA and a 3.27 FIP. Back then, Cole was apart of the National League Central where he had been a pitcher the Cubs needed to watch out for. During his time with Houston, he had a 2.68 ERA and a 2.67 FIP, showing significant improvement from his time in Pittsburgh. In 2019, Cole performed at such a high rate that he had the lowest ERA and the most strikeouts in all of baseball.

It should be noted that Cole has gone 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA at Wrigley Field throughout his seven-year career. This shows that he would possess the ability  to excel as a Cub at Wrigley. Unfortunately, the chances of Cole joining the Cubs are slim to none – largely due to the team’s inherent payroll limitations. At this time, it appears as if the two finalists to land Cole are the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees.

In fact, the Yankees have already made acquiring Cole their primary goal this offseason and are reportedly set to make him an offer. According to Bob Klapisch of The New York Times, the Yankees are set to offer Cole a record-setting seven-year, $245 million contract. However, no formal offers have been made yet. While the Yankees didn’t sign Cole when he was first drafted, they might sign him now.

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None of this should come as a surprise. Cole is the clear front-runner in the pitching market and a record-breaking deal is what it will take to bring him into the hold. The three-time All-Star could immediately change the trajectory of the Cubs franchise – but if you’re holding your breath on a shocking move, you’re in trouble. It’s not in the cards – not even close.