Between the 2019 regular season and the following offseason, MLB talk revolved around Gerrit Cole. Every team had some amount of interest in the Astros’ ace, but the Yankees won out with a massive offer (along with some primo wine and a one-of-a-kind keepsake). If the front office in New York has their way, Cole will anchor the Yankees pitching rotation for the next nine years. Adding Cole to the already-dangerous Yankees sets the stage for what could be a record-breaking 2020. The big question now is, will it help New York reach the World Series?
The Yankees are back and World Series contenders
After a 103-win season in 2019, the Yankees were already poised for another deep postseason run. The Astros defeated the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS, bolstered by a Game 3 gem from none other than Gerrit Cole.
With Cole on board and freshly shorn in New York, the Yankees have one more stud on their side and one fewer obstacle in the way. The Yankees aren’t the only team who made big moves this offseason, but the Gerrit Cole news dominated the baseball world. In addition to Cole, the Yankees have plenty of returning players that make their path to the World Series a clear one.
Preseason World Series odds and moves
On the heels of the Cole trade, Odds Shark published their looking-forward odds for next year. The Yankees are by far the largest favorite at +350. A +350 line means a bet of $100 will win an additional $350 for a total of $450 back.
With those odds, it’s implied that bookmakers expect the Yankees to win about 22% of the time. While that isn’t even 1-in-4, the Yankees have significantly better odds than any other team. The Dodgers are +600, the Astros at +650, and the Braves at +1100. The defending World Series champion Nationals check in at +1400, and no other team is better than +1600.
The Angels get Rendon and the White Sox get everyone
Anthony Rendon made headlines in the offseason as he moved to the Angels (and not the Dodgers), but the Anaheim team is still in the middle of the odds list at +2800. In the Angels’ one postseason appearance in the last decade, the Royals swept them en route to the World Series. With Rendon on board, could the greatest player of all time (a.k.a. Mike Trout) finally pick up a single postseason win? A +2800 line is long odds to lift the trophy, but the Angels could make some noise in the American League West.
Another team worth looking at after a busy December is the Chicago White Sox. In the last week-and-a-half of 2019, the South Siders picked up Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Encarnacion on one-year contracts. Dallas Keuchel signed a three-year deal with the Sox as well, setting them up for a strong 2020. Jose Abreu and James McCann also signed extensions. Even after these moves, however, the Sox have barely budged in the futures market, moving to +4000 after the news broke.
Other factors that make the Yankees World Series favorites
In addition to one of the league’s best pitchers, the Yankees’ bats are liable to catch fire at any time. After Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge led the team to home runs in 31 straight games, Yankees opponents need to be afraid of the raw power of the lineup.
Gerrit Cole turned plenty of heads with his massive contract, but Giancarlo Stanton actually signed a larger one with Miami in 2014 — by $1 million. The Yankees are now on the hook for Stanton’s salary, but his bat could be worth it. Stanton missed most of 2019 with injuries and clearly wasn’t 100% when he returned for the playoffs. He will likely be back in the lineup for opening day 2020, and that should scare the league. Whether the Yankees walk through the world series or one of the other teams shock the league, 2020 will be an MLB season worth watching.
(All odds courtesy of Odds Shark as of December 22, 2019)