With the final month of 2019 here, MLB's hot stove has started to stoke a fire. The room is getting hotter with the Winter Meetings less than a week away.
Marquee free agents such as Will Smith, Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal all have new homes. But the stars still are in the open sea, and they could be for quite some time.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said shortly after the regular season that he expects another long and slow offseason for big-name free agents. No free agent is bigger than star pitcher Gerrit Cole this offseason, and he could still be available well past New Year's Eve.
So, would this help or hurt the Giants' chances of adding the ace?
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that Cole and fellow star pitcher Stephen Strasburg will be meeting with the Yankees over the next two days in California, though Rosenthal stated it's believed Cole might not sign until well into January. The Yankees aren't the only heavy-hitters going after Cole, too. Late last month, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the Dodgers are looking at Cole, along with many other stars.
This should come as no surprise. Both clubs have all the money in the world and want to end their championship droughts. Whatever team signs Cole, better be ready to open up their wallets, and then some.
Cole is expected to break David Price's record for the richest contract ever given to a pitcher. Many in the industry believe he will sign for well over $250 million, and it could be closer to $300 million. Location might be just as big of a factor -- well at least close to it -- as money for the AL Cy Young award runner-up, too.
Astros teammates referred to Cole as a "West Coast guy" and predicted the UCLA product will sign with a team west of Nevada. The Southern California native has been linked to the Dodgers and Angels, but nobody can forget his family ties to the Giants.
Cole is, after all, married to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford's sister. There's no doubt there were at least jokes around the Thanksgiving dinner table about Cole making San Francisco his new home. The longer he waits to make a decision, the better the Giants' chances might be.
The Giants offered outfielder Bryce Harper a 12-year, $310 million contract on Feb. 28 last offseason. Zaidi's initial plans didn't have Harper at the front of his mind, but the longer it took to sign him, the more serious San Francisco's front office became. The same could happen with Cole.
Zaidi and the rest of the Giants' front office want to go young, as shown in the decision to non-tender center fielder Kevin Pillar, who turns 31 years old in January. They have young, intriguing options for their rotation with Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and others as well. But talents like Cole don't come around often.
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Despite being 29 and pitching at least 200 innings in the last three straight seasons, Cole doesn't have too many miles on his right arm and at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he looks built to last. When there's a chance to sign someone like this, smart front offices don't turn a cold shoulder.
Even if you think Zaidi is punting on this offseason and looking to rebuild for beyond 2020, someone with his baseball mind and competitiveness won't let Cole slip away if the star pitcher is available and shows he's interested.