The Gerrit Cole signing may not make the New York Yankees an astronomically better team during the regular season. That’s OK with them.
That wasn’t the reason New York gave him a record-breaking contract. The Yankees brought Cole in to win a World Series, and that’s exactly what oddsmakers now favor them to do.
New York sportsbooks react to the Gerrit Cole signing
DraftKings had New York as a co-favorite along with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers at +550 prior to the signing. The Yankees are now the lone favorite at +350.
FanDuel similarly had Houston as its favorite and New York at +600 before Cole jumped the Astros ship. The Yankees now occupy the top spot at +430.
Rivers concurs with both on New York’s expected 2020 World Series champion status. It has a +350 line on the Yanks, identical to DraftKings.
Sportsbooks across the nation reacted similarly. PointsBet, for example, shortened New York’s odds to +450 to make the Yankees its favorite as well.
Naturally, whether that happens depends on much more than Cole’s performance. There are other reasons why New York is the odds-on favorite to win No. 28 in 2020.
The return of Severino and Stanton provide insurance
Even prior to signing Cole, the Yankees looked like the strongest team in their division. That’s partially because of the return of two players who missed much of 2019 due to injury.
Fellow starting rotation member Luis Severino suffered a rotator cuff injury and then a lat strain in his recovery from that last season. Because of that, he only made three starts in 2019.
Giancarlo Stanton, one of New York’s power-hitting outfielders, only got into 18 games last season due to several injuries. If both Severino and Stanton are able to play a full season in 2020, it helps make the Yankees a solid bet to win at least 100 games and repeat as AL East division champions.
It’s at that point that Cole’s presence could make all the difference for New York. He was part of the Astros rotation that denied the Yankees another World Series appearance last season.
The Yankees effectively stated if you can’t beat him, get him to play for your team. Being the odds-on favorite to win the World Series before the season begins isn’t necessarily a good thing, however.
The curse of being a preseason favorite to win it all
In both of the last two seasons, the consensus pick at most books across the country was Houston. As posterity records, those two series were won by the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals.
The Los Angeles Dodgers opened 2017 as the favorite and were bested by the Astros. 2016 was the last time in which a preseason favorite actually lived up to the billing, as the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in seven games that year.
History will record whether the Yankees will become another disappointment. What’s certain right now is that adding Cole sets them up to potentially go all the way.