Gerrit Cole by the numbers: How his monster contract compares to other top athletes, CEOs

Yahoo Sports

Once again, a New York Yankees contract has rattled the sports world. This time it’s Gerrit Cole, the top free-agent pitcher on the market this winter, to whom the Yankees committed a staggering $324 million over nine years.

It’s both the highest total contract for a pitcher in MLB history and the highest annual average value for a pitcher at $36 million. Cole was the most dominant pitcher in the league last year and was the piece of the puzzle the Yanks are banking will take them back to the World Series as we finish a decade in which they didn’t win a pennant. That hadn’t happened since the 1910s, thus the reason the Yankees were willing to break the bank to get Cole.

But just how much money is this? And how much does it compare to other top athletes and the world’s highest-paid CEOs? We crunched the numbers.

Cole By The Numbers

What does $36 million per season look like for a pitcher when you actually break it down? It looks like A LOT of money. Based on his 2019 stats, Gerrit Cole’s new deal will pay him:

• $1.09 million per start

• $1.8 million per win

• $110,429 per strikeout

• $169,731 per inning

• $9,200 per pitch

Wowzers. Imagine making $9,200 every time you threw a pitch. Imagine being able to buy a huge house every time you start a baseball game.

Now compare that to Tyler Cyr, the Giants minor leaguer, who posted his paycheck earlier this year. His year-to-date pay in October, not long after the minor-league season ended, was $10,275 — or a thousand more than one of Cole’s pitches in 2020.

(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)

How Cole compares to other athletes

You don’t need us to tell you that professional athletes these days are paid generously for their talents, but where does Cole rank among the top athletes of today? No surprise here, soccer players and boxers are rolling in money, and NBA players are doing pretty well, but Gerrit Cole is right there in between Russell Wilson and LeBron James.

We looked at the annual average value of contracts — with data from Spotrac and Forbes — and didn’t include bonuses or endorsements. Here’s where Cole ranks among notable names:

• Canelo Alvarez - $92 million

• Lionel Messi - $92 million

• Lewis Hamilton - $45 million

• James Harden - $42.7 million

• Steph Curry - $40.2 million

• Chris Paul - $39.9 million

• LeBron James - $38.3 million

• Gerrit Cole - $36 million

• Russell Wilson - $35 million

• Mike Trout - $35.5 million

• Aaron Rodgers - $33.5 million

• Manny Machado - $30 million

• Bryce Harper - $25.3 million

(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)

How Cole compares to top CEOs

Modern CEOs get paid a lot too — a few of them are in a completely different stratosphere than Cole. But first, let’s examine which CEOs are in the same ballpark as Cole for their annual salary. You might recognize some of their companies.

• Reed Hastings, Netflix - $36 million

• Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle - $33 million

• Daniel H. Schulman, PayPal - $37.7 million

These numbers come from the New York Times and Equilar. Schulman, for example, ranks No. 16 among current CEOs. Cole would rank 19th, right below Hastings from Netflix.

That’s all plenty of money, but it’s not nearly as much as the top three on the CEO list:

• Elon Musk, Tesla - $2.2 billion

• David M. Zaslav, Discovery - $129 million

• Bob Iger, Disney - $65 million

(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe / Yahoo Sports)

Chipotle and Netflix give us food and content every day, now we see if Cole’s massive payday will bring the Yankees their ultimate prize — a World Series.


Mike Oz is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @mikeoz

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