The New York Yankees reportedlyare "all-in" on trying to sign free-agent starting pitcher Gerrit Cole after meeting with him Tuesday in California.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the update but noted the Yanks are "concerned" the ace, a California native, may prefer the Los Angeles Angels or Los Angeles Dodgers. The team is also scheduled to meet with starter Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday, per Heyman.
A front-line starter leads New York's offseason to-do list for another otherwise stacked roster. The Yankees led MLB in runs scored (943) last season despite numerous high-profile injuries to hitters, including just 18 appearances by All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
The Yanks ranked 15th in starter ERA (4.51), and their projected roster for 2020 lacks a bona fide ace, so the push to sign either Cole or Strasburg doesn't come as a surprise.
It helps that the club doesn't have many other needs. Along with the high-powered offense, the team features a dominant bullpen and good rotation depth with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.
Convincing Cole, the 2019 AL Cy Young runner-up, to sign in New York may be an uphill battle, though.
The Yankees selected him in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft and put on the full-court press to get him to turn pro rather than remain committed to UCLA. He stuck with the Bruins.
Now the Yanks are once again trying to get him in pinstripes, but there's been ample speculation the dominant right-hander would like to play out west.
So the Yankees may be forced to look elsewhere to fill their ace void, which is why they're also keeping close tabs on Strasburg. The flamethrower is coming off an outstanding playoff run to help the Washington Nationals win the World Series with a 1.98 ERA in six games (five starts).
If New York lands either of those marquee starters, it would have a strong case to be the team to beat heading into 2020, regardless of what else happens over the winter.