STAMFORD, Conn. — While Brian Cashman was descending the outside of a 22-story building Friday, the Yankees’ general manager came across a message taped to a 10th-floor window from a fan: Please sign Gerrit Cole.
Cashman, whose rappelling adventure has become a holiday tradition, confirmed he met with Cole in California on Tuesday and spoke with free-agent pitcher Stephen Strasburg the following day.
“It was a great opportunity, clearly it was very public, that we met with Gerrit Cole and Strasburg while I was on the West Coast,” Cashman said. “At least, that’s who you all are aware of so far. Who knows who I met with?
Cole and Strasburg are the top pitchers on the free-agent market. The Yankees would like to add an ace to a rotation that already includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ.
Along with Cashman, assistant general manager Mike Fischman, manager Aaron Boone, new Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake and former Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte made the trip to speak with both pitchers, who are represented by Scott Boras.
Cashman offered little about possibly signing either player, declining to discuss how much the Yankees might spend.
“I think it was an important part of the process for them,” Cashman said. “It sounds like they have met with many teams, and obviously I can’t predict the future or the timing of their futures, only really they control that.”
Cole was 20-5 with an American League-best 2.50 ERA and a majors-high 326 strikeouts this year for the Astros. He was drafted by the Yankees 28th overall in 2008 but declined to sign and headed to college at UCLA.
Strasburg was the MVP of the World Series for the Nationals and was the organization’s first overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Cashman will return to California for the baseball’s winter meetings, which begin Monday. First, he’ll attend Sunday’s Heights and Lights, where he will dress as an elf and again descend the Landmark Building.
“Obviously, I’ll be flying back out after this event and in the meantime staying engaged,” said Cashman, who declined to say if another meeting with either pitcher was planned.
“I’m open to do clearly whatever, as always, is important for the Yankees. If there are certain steps that need to be taken, or conversations on the phone, like any club we are fully prepared to do what’s necessary.”