The New York Yankees have officially re-entered Evil Empire mode through the signing of their white whale, ace Gerrit Cole.
In 2017, the New York Yankees were on the cusp of yet another World Series performance. Faltering in Game 7 of the ALCS, a big move was needed to propel them into future glory.
When the 2018 offseason rolled around, Giancarlo Stanton and his massive contract came to the Bronx—despite the lack of an actual need in the outfield at the time.
After a disappointing exit in the 2018 playoffs, at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees felt their core was complete, so no big splash presented itself prior to the 2019 season. Trading for James Paxton, and signing both DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, strengthened an already strong club.
It just wasn’t enough.
Then, on Dec. 11, the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million deal. And just like that, the Yankees proved to everyone that they’re serious about winning the World Series now.
The Evil Empire is back.
They addressed a need that has been prevalent for several seasons and they did it in serious fashion. No second-tier starters. Instead, they went for the big fish and emerged as the victor, something they failed to do over the previous two offseasons. In fact, it is something they failed to do for quite some time.
They netted Cole and put a bonafide starter in their rotation, one who will provide length and allow the bullpen to be rested, not overworked, when heading into an October run.
This is the move the Yankees needed to make if they wanted to prove they are ready for that title run. Every other move over these last few years has just been leading up to this, allowing the Yankees to get a big name who will anchor a rotation.
The Yankees have all the tools they need. It’s what they’ll do with these tools that will make all the difference. Of course, nobody can predict what will occur in the upcoming season. Nobody saw ahead of time that the Yankees would end up putting half of the Bronx population on injured reserve throughout the year.
Now that the Yankees have what they need to win, the next step is all about the Nike Swoosh: just do it—just like 2009, when they went on a free agent signing spree to bring in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira.
The question is, “What exactly will they do?”
They’ve already become the favorites ahead of the regular season. They have Aaron Judge, arguably one of the best right fielders in the game. They have a devastating lineup that can crush home runs at a moment’s notice. They have an infield of DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, three of the finest defenders in the game. They have the best closer in the game and a cast of unstoppable characters in the bullpen that can strike you out with ridiculous pitches.
Now, with Cole, they are set. The chase for 28 is all too real and the Yankees are all aboard, ready to take that final and official step to the Fall Classic.
They have all the tools to prove this is a “win-now” season. Now, all they have to do is win… now. Anything less will actually be a failure, and this time, Aaron Judge is right; no excuses, just win.
Nothing else can be expected when the Evil Empire strikes back.