Houston Astros: Gerrit Cole’s $18M qualifying offer is just a formality

Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros have extended free agent Gerrit Cole a qualifying offer of $17.8 million this season. He won’t accept but it’s just a formality. Why?

The Houston Astros are still reeling for the sting of a loss suffered in Game 7 of the World Series this past season.  It was tough to watch because it was the reverse of the 2017 championship run where the pitching was extremely dominant, the team was finding ways to get on base and convert those said runners.

All three attributes had been up-and-down throughout the World Series but the Houston Astros continued to battle hard and push this series to seven games.

The peculiar thing about this series is that no team won on their home field with that incident not being common, I’m sure that broke some record in World Series history.

Despite some of the pains of seeing the Houston Astros not being able to hit prolifically as they have been, it still was a hard-fought, battle-scarred, emotional series that both teams will remember for eons to come.

And so will we as well…

But the things I’ve seen fans write about the Houston Astros on social media is nothing short of a head-scratcher with many saying that the team choked.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Getting swept by the Washington Nationals would’ve been a choke job but taking this team to the brink of all seven games of the series isn’t a choke job, it’s just all about coming up short.

That’s fine because the ball is not always going to bounce your way and that’s what happened for the Nats throughout this past postseason.

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer and Robinson Chirinos all had clutch moments through the postseason but the lineup as a whole didn’t generate enough runs across basepaths to obliterate their competition.

The Houston Astros responded as best as they could but it certainly wasn’t enough to rival their opponent.  They still will be a favorite to win the championship in 2020, so hang on to your hats, this dynasty in the making is far from relinquishing its rule in Major League Baseball.

But an integral piece to provide that said continuity is trying to bring Gerrit Cole back into the fold.  He — tied up with Justin Verlander — were the true heroes on the mound this season and it’s tough to fathom where this team would be without them this season.

But luckily for Verlander, he’s under contract for the next two seasons as he starts his two-year, $66 million extension he signed last winter.

Cole’s value has skyrocketed — especially with him being a finalist for the AL MVP — because his strong pitching from the mound and there will be a line of teams throwing money at him.

Will it be the Houston Astros?

I think they’ll make a fair offer for him but I’d imagine they’re going to get outbid.  Unless Cole really has a heart out for the Houston Astros and is willing to take a financial hit, he’s probably not returning.

Baseball players wait so long for their free agency, a lot of times they’re near 30-years-old when they gain control of the contracts that they sign.  It’s imperative that Cole cash in now so that his financial future could be even more secure.  I don’t think the Houston Astros are going to willing to provide that capital when other needs on the roster need to be addressed.

But the team did extend a $17.8 million qualifying offer to Cole as a formality.  He will decline it and seek free agency but the team can still try to negotiate a deal while he’s talking with other teams this winter.

The 29-year-old ace earned $13.5 million in what could be his final season with the Houston

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Astros as they’re some estimates that he could land a long-term deal in upwards of $200 million, more money than he’s ever made in his life.

The advantage of extending the qualifying offer is that it secures their ability to get compensatory picks if Cole happens to walk.  The higher the contract that he agrees to, the better the pick would be in the appropriate round.  That’s important because you always want to continue to build for the future while keeping the present just as bright.

The Houston Astros are smart and they want to make sure all options are on the table so that they can continue to compete for another World Series as long as possible.

We’ll have to see how this pans out but it’s important to keep an eye on this development.

Next. Astros: Assessing the pitching needs for the 2020 season. dark

Cole posted a 20-5 record, along with a 2.50 ERA, while tossing 326 strikeouts to 59 earned runs in 212.1 innings pitched during the 2019 season.  His 2.64 FIP and 0.90 WHIP are career-highs.  He also had a 0.90 ERA while tossing 47 strikeouts to seven earned runs in the postseason through 36.2 innings pitched.