Earlier today, the New York Yankees held a press conference to show off their headline-grabbing winter acquisition – phenom starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Cole, a wildly dominant ace the Yankees have been chasing for years, also happens to be a lifelong Yankees fan, now finally living his dream to play for the historic franchise.

Lucky for fans like myself, the negotiations did not stretch out over the entire months-long off season, as has recently often been the case with all-star talent and their ruthless agents. Instead, they were finished quickly and decisively.

With that, here are three key takeaways we can all learn from this impressive deal:

Patience is a virtue

The Yankees, who have been increasingly criticized for not going for the right player at the right time, not going big enough, and not shelling out the dough, finally seized their opportunity. Their acquisition of Cole is a great reminder of what we can achieve when we stay disciplined, not chasing the wrong deals even if we are under pressure or withering criticism. This continued focus on the end goal – what Brian Cashman and the Yankees call “big game hunting” – has now placed them in the position of being the clear front runners for the significant future.

Don’t be afraid to show how much you want it

In sales and negotiation, it often is taught that we should avoid revealing a great desire to close a deal, and instead express our willingness to walk away or let it go if our terms are not quickly met. However, the Yankees approached Cole very differently. There were no games, no false posturing, or mixed signals that the Yankees didn’t really need or want Cole. Instead, the Yankees took the reverse approach, indicating from the get-go that their clear focus was securing Cole, that “ownership had given approval to provide a record setting contract”, and even making it known early on that “they would not be denied”. This level of transparent interest is something you don’t see very often. It’s little wonder Cole felt secure making an early choice to go with a team who wanted him badly and would pay him in line with value he represents.

Get it to the decision makers

Finally, shortly after news of the agreement it’s learned there were as many as five direct conversations during the final negotiations between agent Scott Boras and Yankees owner and managing partner Hal Steinbrenner. (As opposed to General Manger Brian Cashman.) These conversations were considered a “turning point” toward the end result of Cole receiving his nine year $324 million dollar contract (the 9th year being an apparent tipping point), one of the biggest investments ever made for a player. Even an experienced, skillful, and accomplished negotiator like Brian Cashman knows to get the ultimate decision makers talking is to create magic.

With that, I, as a passionate Yankees fan, am incredibly excited to see what the future holds, while also extremely grateful that the Yankees refused to play games during their negotiation with Cole for weeks or months on end.

We can now spend the off-season looking forward, versus having to follow a bitter, drawn-out, stressful, ordeal of a negotiation just for the sake of money, power, appearance, or habit.

Play ball 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. Let me begin by saying that I wear two hats in my analysis of your comments. First, I am a Red Sox fan so I am jaded and not happy about this.
    😉 . Second, I also work in the world of negotiation so I will attempt to keep that hat on with my analysis.

    Overall, good points and I think the second one, in particular, is important. Sometimes playing the game you mentioned backfires.

    I would add two other factors that I believe were key to this.

    First, Cole grew up a lifelong Yankee fan and that connection, I believe, was the thing that trumped all else. After all, he still has a sign that you showed from when he was 12! Cialdini, in his book Pre-suasion, talked about Unity as the 7th principle of influence — meaning finding a shared connection to the other. I believe that was the key here.

    Second, the money. As much as we would like to emphasize other things, short of the Dodgers, no other team could come close to giving Cole that kind of money. This is not the Yankees fault — it is baseball’s — for not having a salary cap.

    I think those two other factors played as big a role in all of this as those you previously mentioned.

    Finally, I would say congrats, but you know as a Red Sox fan I would not really mean it.

    Nice write up!

    Liked by 1 person

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