The New York Yankees are always linked to the best free agents available, and that remains the case in the 2019 MLB offseason. With Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg aiming to sign massive contracts within the next few months, the Bronx is considered a possible destination for one of the top pitchers on the market.

General manager Brian Cashman told reporters Monday night at MLB’s GM Meetings that the organization will talk to both Cole and Strasburg. It only makes sense, given New York’s need to upgrade the rotation and the team’s ability to afford another lucrative contract.

The actual level of New York’s interest is up for debate.

The Yankees would love to sign Cole or Strasburg, potentially making them the 2020 World Series favorite. But at what cost?

New York has avoided paying the top free agents in recent seasons. The Yankees met with both Manny Machado and Patrick Corbin a year ago but didn’t come close to offering either player what they signed for elsewhere. Despite rumors that Bryce Harper might head to New York, the Yankees were never a player for the outfielder.

WFAN’s Sweeny Murti said on SNY Tuesday night that he doesn’t believe the Yankees have real interest in paying Cole or Strasburg the kind of money that they will command. 

Looking like the best pitcher in baseball through the regular season and the playoffs, Cole is expected to pursue a $300 million contract. He’s almost certain to sign the most lucrative deal of any pitcher in history. A $35 million average salary is a real possibility.

Strasburg will want more than the $100 million over four years that he was set to make before opting out of his contract with the Washington Nationals. The veteran could get a significant raise after winning the World Series MVP award.

Aroldis Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million contract with the Yankees in December 2016. New York hasn’t given a free agent even $40 million guaranteed since then. 

The Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton in December 2017, putting them on the hook for $265 million left on what was once the largest contract of all time. Because the franchise appears unwilling to go too far above the luxury tax threshold, Stanton’s deal could ultimately prevent New York from handing out a similar contract to any free agent in the near future.

There are those that believe the Yankees might actually pay the price to land Cole. 

Former New York Mets’ general manager Jim Duquette has pegged the Yankees as the frontrunner to sign Cole. SNY’s Andy Martino, who noted last offseason that the Yankees were unlikely to meet Machado’s contract demands, concurs.

The Houston Astros have stopped the Yankees from reaching the World Series in two of the last three years. Cole threw seven shutout innings at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS.

The Yankees have won 203 regular-season games and just one postseason series over the last two years.

New York’s hitting failed them in big moments during the 2019 playoffs. The starting rotation was also an issue. The Yankees relied on its bullpen, which seemed worn out by the time the team was eliminated. 

Taking one of Houston’s Cy Young candidates would be the quickest way to close the game between the Astros and Yankees. It remains to be seen if New York is willing to make that happen.

Gerrit Cole Houston Astros Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on October 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images