Cole hits New York: 'What doesn't excite me?'

December 18th, 2019

NEW YORK -- The Yankees’ “great white whale” has landed in the Big Apple.

Six days after agreeing to a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract, walked the streets of New York on Monday before undergoing his physical.

Cole was approached by reporters from the New York Post and TMZ Sports outside a Manhattan hotel on Monday afternoon, when he offered his first public comments since selecting the Yankees’ offer.

“What doesn’t excite me?” Cole said. “The history, the fans, the city, competitiveness.”

The 29-year-old Californian was still showcasing the beard and long hair that he exhibited in this year’s World Series with the Astros. He was 20-5 with an American League-leading 2.50 ERA and a Major League-leading 326 strikeouts during the regular season, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award voting to Houston teammate Justin Verlander.

Cole, who selected the Yankees’ staggering bid over lesser offers from the Angels and Dodgers, acknowledged that his appearance would soon change to adhere to the club’s grooming policy.

“Unfortunately,” he said, with a smile.

To clear space for Cole on the 40-man roster, the Yanks DFA'd right-hander Chance Adams on Wednesday morning.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman identified Cole as the club’s top target coming off a season in which the club won 103 regular-season games and celebrated its first AL East title since 2012 but ultimately was eliminated by the Astros in a six-game AL Championship Series.

That was made clear to Cole and his representative, Scott Boras, as well as other free agents who had hoped to draw interest from the Yankees -- a group that included shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was formally introduced by the Phillies on Monday in Philadelphia.

“Cashman made it loud and clear that Cole was their priority,” Gregorius said. “I think he only called once. That was it. Nothing else happened. If that happens, I have to look for a place to play. I was in contact with the Phillies. Everything was good, and now I'm here.”