Chris Carpenter begins rehab assignment at Double-A

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Chris Carpenter took a big step yesterday in his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome, making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A.

Carpenter threw 2.2 innings in his first game action since last year, striking out five and walking two while allowing three runs on six hits. In terms of numbers it wasn’t an impressive outing for Carpenter, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the 38-year-old right-hander was clocked as high as 95 miles per hour with his fastball.

Allen Vaughan, who was at the game reporting for MLB.com, had a slightly different velocity story, writing that “his fastball sat between 89 mph and 92 mph, and his cutter ranged from 86 to 88.”

Either way, Carpenter’s fastball averaged 90.5 miles per hour in 2012 and most importantly after yesterday’s start he seemed very optimistic about how he felt physically.

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.