Gerrit Cole Contract: Where Does $324 Million Deal With New York Yankees Rank Among Mlb's Richest Contracts?

The worst-kept secret of baseball's offseason is finally out in the open after Gerrit Cole agreed to a record nine-year deal worth $324 million with the New York Yankees.

The 29-year-old was the most-coveted star in the current free-agency class along with Stephen Strasburg, who resigned with the Washington Nationals earlier this week, and had been on the radar of both Los Angeles franchises as well as the Yankees.

His agent, Scott Boras, said on Tuesday that a pair of what he described as "mystery teams" were also chasing the right-hander's services.

As reported by ESPN's Jeff Pasan late on Tuesday, however, the Yankees eventually got their man.

Cole will earn $36 million on average per year, making the deal the richest for a pitcher in terms of both total money and annual average salary and his deal includes an opt-out clause after five years.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows Cole's contract is the fourth-largest in MLB history in terms of total value, behind Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton.

In March, the former penned a 12-year extension worth $426.5 million with the Los Angeles Angels—the largest contract in the history of North American sports—while Harper signed a 13-year deal worth $330 million with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Stanton, meanwhile, agreed a 13-year extension worth $325 million with the Miami Marlins in 2014.

Gerrit Cole, MLB, MLB contracts
Gerrit Cole ranks fourth in the list of the richest-ever contracts in MLB history, but second behind Bryce Harper when only free agents are considered. Statista

When only contracts signed by free agents are concerned, Cole ranks second in total value, behind Harper and just ahead of Manny Machado, who became the first $300-million free agent in MLB history last year when he inked a deal with the San Diego Padres.

Cole's deal also trumps any other contract ever signed by a pitcher, including the $245 million deal Strasburg signed with the Nationals on Monday.

Prior to Cole and Strasburg only four pitchers had signed deals worth over $200 million—David Price, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke.

When it comes to average annual value, at $36 million a year Cole's deal is the most lucrative among pitchers, surpassing Strasburg and Greinke, who make $35 million and $34.4 million per year on average.

In fact, Cole's contract with the Yankees will be the highest in terms of annual average in the whole MLB, surpassing even Trout's monster 12-year extension, which works out to $35.5 million per year.

A California native, Cole grew up a Yankees fan and was drafted from the franchise out of a high school with the 28th overall pick of the 2008 draft, but opted to attend college at UCLA instead.

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts against the Washington Nationals during the third inning in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22 in Houston, Texas. Mike Ehrmann/Getty

From there he was then drafted with the first overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates three years later and remained in Pennsylvania until he was traded to the Houston Astros in January last year.

Last season, Cole recorded a strikeout rate of 39.9 percent in the regular season—the highest ever by a starting pitcher—and ranked first in the MLB with 326 strikeouts. He also ranked first in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), as measured by FanGraphs, and third in terms of earned run average (ERA) among qualified pitchers.

The 29-year started Game 1 and Game 5 of the World Series, as the Astros lost 4-3 against the Nationals. His 19-game winning streak came to an end after 25 starts in the opening game of the series, but in Game 5 he held Washington to one run on three hits, while striking out nine batters in seven innings as Houston cruised to a 7-1 win.

The Yankees have not won the World Series in over a decade and hope Cole, who finished behind Astros teammate Justin Verlander in the American League Cy Young Award last season, will help them end the drought.

In the last 10 years the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia to seven-year deals, the longest contracts the franchise had ever agreed to until the deal with Cole.

This article was updated to include an infographic.