Carlos Quentin cleared for live batting practice

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Carlos Quentin is far enough along in his recovery from March 19 knee surgery that he’s been cleared for live batting practice.

Quentin was initially given a 4-6 week return timetable and won’t be ready to return by the time he’s eligible to come off the disabled list on April 18, but manager Bud Black told Corey Brock of MLB.com that a minor-league rehab assignment isn’t far off if setbacks can be avoided.

Quentin was acquired from the White Sox for a pair of prospects in December and moving from power-inflating U.S. Cellular Field to pitcher’s haven Petco Park figures to drag down his raw numbers, but the Padres can definitely use his right-handed thump in the lineup. He averaged 33 homers per 150 games for the White Sox and they’ve been platooning Chris Denorfia and Will Venable in right field while playing Jesus Guzman everyday in left field in Quentin’s absence.

Report: Gerrit Cole has seven-year, $245 million offer from Yankees

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Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.

While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.

Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.

Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.

For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.