Gerrit Cole insider: Initial Yankees rejection was key to everything

John Savage knows about recruiting Gerrit Cole.

The longtime UCLA head coach got the right-hander to commit to the Bruins out of Orange Lutheran HS in Southern California then waited to see if he’d actually get to coach him.

“We were pretty comfortable we would be able to hold onto him,” Savage said by phone. “No one believed me.”

That’s because Cole was a first-round talent out of high school, and many thought he’d wind up going pro instead. The Yankees ended up selecting him with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2008 draft but couldn’t sign him.

Now the Yankees are among the teams trying to land the coveted free agent, and Savage is among those waiting to see where he goes.

And he isn’t surprised Cole is expected to take some time before he finds a new home.

“I don’t know what he’s gonna do,” Savage said. “He’s been thinking about this a long time. And that was before he pitched like he did on the biggest stage.”

Cole is the top free-agent target this offseason. He went from UCLA to being the top pick in the draft for the Pirates in 2011 then was traded to the Astros.

Two years later, he’s set to likely score the biggest contract for a starting pitcher.

“I think he’ll look at the team’s chances of winning and the players around him,” Savage said. “It’s about wherever he feels comfortable. A lot will go into it.”

Source: New York Post

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