It took Houston pitcher Gerrit Cole less than an hour after the Astros lost Game 7 of the World Series to announce he was a free agent. Now the question is, who will pay for the talented right-hander?

Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole will be one of the most coveted free agents this offseason, and the right-handed pitcher has hinted he wants to return to his home state of California. (Image: AP)

Cole was 20-5, with an ERA of 2.50 in 33 games with the Astros this season. The 29-year-old was drafted by the New York Yankees, but began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. The last two years were spent in Texas with the Astros. In seven seasons, he is 94-52, with an ERA of 3.22.

Oddsmakers say Cole will likely return to Southern California, where he grew up. The Los Angeles Angels are the 3/1 favorite to land SoCal native, according to Sportsline.com. SportsBettingDime.com has the Angels as the 4/1 co-favorite, along with the Astros.

Gerrit Cole Return to Houston Unlikely

SportsBettingDime.com will probably be soon adjusting those odds of Cole returning to Houston. Sportsline already did, posting the Astros chances of the pitcher returning at 25/1.

Cole seemed to clear up any confusion of him staying with the team. After Houston’s loss, Cole was reluctant to talk to the media, telling a team official, “I’m not employed by the team.”

He relented, telling the team official, “I guess as a representative of myself.”

When he showed up to the media scrum, he wasn’t wearing an Astros hat, instead donning the cap of his agent Scott Boras’ company.

“A lot of good friendships,” Cole said about his two years in Houston. “Obviously, I learned a lot about pitching from my teammates. From the pitching coaches and pitching staff. I learned a lot more about the game from [manager] A.J. [Hinch]. And it was just a pleasure to play in the city of Houston.”

Why No Cole in Game 7?

Usually for a Game 7, every pitcher except the one that pitched the previous game is available. That is certainly what Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

So it made sense that Cole was warming up in the sixth inning, and many thought he would be the logical choice to replace Zack Greinke. Cole, though, sat in the bullpen while Hinch went with four other pitchers, and the Astros lost the game.

Hinch said he only wanted to use Cole if the team had a lead in the late innings. That never happened, so Hinch went with other pitchers that failed him.

“With all that was on the line, he and I had an incredible conversation about what he was willing to do to win the World Series,” Hinch said. “And that means a lot to me, it means a lot to this team, and he’s meant a lot to this franchise.”

Angels are Favorites for Cole

The Los Angeles Angels are the top pick to land the coveted free agent for two reasons. One, Cole grew up about 20 miles away from the stadium, and it is reported he wants to be back in Southern California.

Two is the Angel’s new manager. Joe Maddon is known for being player’s manager, and that is also apparently attractive to Cole.

The other Los Angeles team, the Dodgers, could make a run at Cole as two of their pitchers, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill, are free agents.

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