SAN DIEGO — Alex Cora understood the Yankees were going to try to improve a 103-win team, so the Red Sox manager wasn’t stunned when he heard Boston’s blood rival signed Gerrit Cole to a staggering nine-year deal worth $324 million late Tuesday evening.
“We expected it. We knew that not only them but other teams were going to try and get better. Gerrit has been amazing the last few years. Got to meet him at the All-Star Game and talked a lot. He is a great guy,’’ Cora said Wednesday morning as the winter meetings moved toward Thursday’s finish line. “Obviously for us it is another challenge, another hurdle, but that is the way it works. They got better and we still have time to get better, too.’’
The signing of Cole, 29, guarantees very little other than if the Yankees don’t find a way to slice some payroll, they will surpass the third luxury-tax threshold. Teams that win the winter — and the Cole signing gives the Yankees the lead — often aren’t the team that cop the World Series. Still, Cole isn’t joining a team rebuilding around unknown youth.
Like a lot of others, Cora had an inkling Cole was going to leave his Southern California roots…