As reports surfaced regarding ace pitcher Gerrit Cole’s record nine-year deal with the New York Yankees, sportsbooks wasted little time in updating their odds for the 2020 World Series.
The 29-year-old right hander, who helped lead Houston to a World Series title in 2018 and within a game of a repeat this past season, reportedly will receive $36 million a year under the deal. While the $324 million won’t surpass the $330 million free agent contract Bryce Harper signed in February to join the Phillies, the average value far exceeds the 13-year deal Harper received.
It also edges the seven-year, $245 million deal Stephen Strasburg secured earlier this week to stay with the Washington Nationals, MLB’s defending champions.
The contract apparently lets Cole opt out after five years, allowing him to possibly pursue an even bigger payday down the road.
For the Yankees, while the money was large, the logic was simple. One of the team’s biggest weaknesses this season was its pitching. Although New York reached the American League Championship Series, where it lost to Houston in six games, no starter threw more than 182 innings and only one starter (Domingo German) posted a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of less than 1.2.
Cole, who finished second to now-former Astros teammate Justin Verlander for the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, won 20 games in 33 starts last season. He also led the AL with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. He also posted a career-best 0.895 WHIP.
Now, Cole will be the top starter on a team looking to win its first World Series since 2009, a near-eternity for baseball’s richest franchise.
Odds Shorten in Moments
Shortly after Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the agreement on Twitter, PointsBet jumped on the news, literally. The sportsbook, available in New Jersey and Iowa, quote-tweeted Passan’s announcement with its updated odds.
Odds to win the World Series:
Astros: +550 https://t.co/i97ggnjGuM
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) December 11, 2019
The Yankees previous odds at PointsBet were +500, a representative told Casino.org.
At 12:15 am ET Wednesday morning at FanDuel, the Yanks were +550, the second choice behind the Astros. Less than 90 minutes later, their odds were shortened to +450, making them the new favorites.
After the 2019 season ended in October, FanDuel started the Yankees at +600.
Over at DraftKings, the Yankees, Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers started the offseason as co-favorites at +550. After the Cole signing, the sportsbook announced the odds for New York had not changed.
Best Available Free Agents
While Cole and Strasburg are now off the board, there are still a few players who have not signed and could alter a team’s World Series odds.
The top free agent hitter available is third baseman Anthony Rendon. With the Nationals last season, Rendon posted a career year with a .319 average, 34 home runs, 126 runs batted in, and 117 runs scored – all personal bests. Like Strasburg, it’s possible Rendon will choose to stay in Washington and help their odds improve to defend their title.
The best available starting pitcher is likely Madison Bumgarner. The 30-year-old left-hander started 34 games in 2019, the first time he’s pitched an entire season since 2016. While his productivity has declined in recent years, he did help San Francisco win three World Series titles since 2010.
Another top prize is Hyun-Jin Ryu. With the Dodgers last season, the 32-year-old lefty led the National League with a 2.32 ERA. He finished second in the ML Cy Young vote to New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
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