Giants rule out return of Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross

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After picking up Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan in trades, Giants GM Brian Sabean shut the door Wednesday on the possibility of free agents Carlos Beltran and Cody Ross returning next year.

The market for Beltran has been surprisingly light, with his name rarely coming up at the winter meetings. While the focus has rightfully been on Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, seemingly lesser outfielders like Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham are still getting more attention than Beltran.

Beltran, who cost the Giants their top pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler at the trade deadline, hit .323/.369/.551 in 167 at-bats for San Francisco. Overall, he hit .300/.385/.525 in 520 at-bats last season, giving him a .910 OPS. Cuddyer finished at .805, while Willingham came in at .810. Beltran is also better than either defensively.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.