SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBSNewYork) -- The New York Yankees have reportedly landed the biggest prize on the free agent market -- ace pitcher Gerrit Cole.
According to reports just before midnight Eastern Time, Cole and the Yankees have come to an agreement on a record contract.
The deal is reportedly worth $324 million over nine years -- which would set records for both total money and average annual value ($36 million per season) ever given to a pitcher in baseball history.
Cole is coming off one of the great pitching seasons in recent memory and, arguably, the best walk-year performance in baseball history.
The 29-year-old workhorse struck out a staggering 326 batters in 212.1 innings this past season. It was his second All-Star campaign in a row with the Astros, who was seemingly revived after not reaching his full potential with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The mega-contract will reportedly include a full no-trade clause and there will be no money deferred in the deal.
The deal does reportedly include an opt-out clause after the right-hander's fifth season in New York.
For 2020 at least, there will be an elite starting staff on the mound in the Bronx -- as Cole immediately moves to the top of a rotation that will also include Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka.
Hal Steinbrenner had reportedly given his longtime GM, Brian Cashman, ownership's blessing to offer the prized free agent a "record-setting" deal. That plan became reality Tuesday night at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego.
The Yanks reportedly beat out the perennial World Series contending Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels to land the most coveted free agent of the winter.
It's the largest contract the Steinbrenner family has ever handed out to a free agent. The $324 million is more than twice as much as the team gave CC Sabathia ($161 million) when New York inked the lefty to a deal before the 2009 season.
Sabathia's mentor in the Bronx -- fellow Yankee great Andy Pettitte -- reportedly played a pivotal role in the discussions with Cole at the Winter Meetings. Reporter Joel Sherman tweets that Pettitte sold the California native on playing and winning in New York, an attitude reportedly shared by the superstar.
Time will tell if the 29-year-old flamethrower can follow in Pettitte's championship footsteps in Yankees pinstripes.
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