The star right-hander claims that he was frustrated and angry when reporters headed his way looking for quotes about being passed over for a relief appearance in the seventh inning when the Astros were ahead.
Then and there, Cole also wanted no part of answering questions about the next phase of his life as a free agent who may land a $200-million contract on the open market.
All of that led to Cole asking an Astros PR official if he could get out of doing a post-game interview because “technically, I’m unemployed” before he agreed to answer questions “as a representative of myself.”
A day later, Cole calmed down and changed his tune in a Thursday interview with the Houston Chronicle.
The pitcher also gave some clues about his future. For instance, he’s not closing the door on a return to the Astros and he shot down rumors that he’ll sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers or LA Angels because he wants to play close to his Southern California home.
Addressing his post-game interview, Cole said, “I was upset, and my tone did not come off quite the way I wanted it to. One win away. We had the lead with eight outs to go. It’s just a tough pill to swallow.
“Those comments were intended to be lighthearted, but also truthful in the sense that I don’t want to be talking about free agency and I don’t want to be addressing those comments 20 minutes after a team loss.”
Cole is expected to fetch one of the largest contracts in history as a free agent – spotrac.com lists his market value at $197.9 million for six years – and he’ll likely be pursued by most of the big-market clubs, the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, and Phillies included.
The Astros are a longshot to keep Cole, who was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA in the 2019 regular season and 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five postseason starts.
Astros ownership reportedly prefers to keep the club’s 2020 payroll under the luxury-tax threshold.
But both sides appear open to discussing a new deal. Owner Jim Crane told the Chronicle “we may make a run” in October and Cole raved on Thursday about how happy he was during his two seasons in Houston.
“My wife and I just are so comfortable here,” Cole said. “It’s been such a great environment for the family. It’s been such a wonderful opportunity from a pitching standpoint, from making lifelong friends … (getting) to hang around the unique people on our team like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander. We have one of the best managers in the game, A.J. (Hinch).
“I’m really grateful for this experience. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m not saying goodbye, by any means.
“The rest isn’t up to me. I don’t know what they’re going to do. I don’t have control over the situation.”
Cole may not have control over what the Astros may or may not offer, but it’ll be his call on where he ends up.
Before the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS, Houston right fielder Josh Reddick made a prediction.”
“He probably wants to be closer to home. It’s definitely going to be west of Nevada.”
Asked about Reddick’s comments on Thursday, Cole responded, “No, that’s not a fair assumption. I never said that.”
True, but Cole probably is getting advice from agent Scott Boras to send a message that he’s open to signing with any team in order to drive up his price tag in a bidding war.
For now, not even Cole has a clue what to expect though.
“I truthfully don’t have a crystal ball,” he said.