NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York Yankees officially have the ace they have been craving. And it turns out, he’s been craving them as well.
Web Extra: Yankees Formally Introduce Ace Right-Hander Gerrit Cole:
The 29-year-old right-hander has been a Yankees fan since he was a kid. One photo from the 2001 World Series shows him holding a sign saying he’s a fan “today, tomorrow and forever.”
And he surprised everyone by bringing that very sign with him to the press conference.
“I would just like to say, I’m here. I’ve always been here,” Cole said, adding when asked why he chose to come to the Bronx, “Because it was my dream. I had a second opportunity to chase it and it’s the best organization, in my opinion, in the league.”
In addition to the massive contract, Cole said he was very impressed by the pitch general manager Brian Cashman and his lieutenants made to him during free agency.
“There is a process here that Brian spoke to and he just alluded to a couple minutes ago about trying to bring the best people at each individual position, to surround everybody with the best opportunity to succeed,” Cole said. ” I think they have demonstrated that through Brian’s tenure over the last two decades. So it instills lots of confidence as a player when you hear those things, and it doesn’t hurt to play for your favorite team.”
Gerrit Cole with the famous sign he held in Phoenix during the Yankees 2001 World Series loss to the Diamondbacks. 👌🏾 Kudos pic.twitter.com/383dLfIW59
— Otis Livingston (@OlivingstonTV) December 18, 2019
Known for his rugged beard and longish hair, Cole sported a whole new look. He got a haircut and was clean-shaven, keeping with the Yankees’ famous dress code.
“He cleans up nice, doesn’t he?” Yankees manager Aaron Boone joked.
“I have experienced razor burn now for the first time in the last 10 years,” Cole added.
The stud right-hander has been on the Yankees’ radar forever. Back in 2008, he was a first-round draft pick of the Bombers, but chose to go to UCLA on a baseball scholarship instead. New York reportedly tried to trade for him following the 2017 season, but the Pittsburgh Pirates, his team at the time, opted to send him to the Houston Astros.
Cole went 20-5 last season with the Astros, leading the American League with a 2.50 ERA and the majors with 326 strikeouts. He then went 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five postseason starts, including pitching seven shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.
In the World Series against the Washington Nationals, Cole got knocked around a bit in Game 1, allowing five runs over seven frames in a 5-4 loss, but he bounced back in Game 5, giving up just one run and three hits over seven in the Astros’ 7-1 win.
Cole ended up finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award voting behind then-teammate Justin Verlander.
During his two years in Houston, Cole went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 65 games and starts in the regular season. Over his seven-year career, he is 94-52 with a 3.22 ERA, amassing 1,336 strikeouts in 1,195 innings.