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Watch: Matt Cain dominates in final career start

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Matt Cain took the mound for his final career start on Saturday afternoon. His 13-year run with the Giants has been buoyed by flashes of brilliance, from his contributions during three championship runs to the perfect game he executed against the Astros in 2012, and no matter his stat line on Saturday, it was bound to be an emotional day. Given his startling downturn over the past five seasons, no one would have blamed the veteran right-hander had he imploded yet again, mirroring some of the 9+ run, three-inning outings he weathered earlier in the year. Instead, the Giants were treated to a vintage performance from their former ace.

Cain dazzled the Padres’ end-of-season lineup (admittedly, not an impressive feat in and of itself), spitting four strikeouts, two hits and a walk over five scoreless innings. He retired the first six batters in order before allowing a leadoff single to Hunter Renfroe in the third, but induced three quick outs to end the threat and didn’t allow another batter past first base for the rest of his start.

It looked like Cain’s career finale was doomed to end on a sour note after he issued a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg in the fifth. Giants’ skipper Bruce Bochy approached the mound, incurring a stream of boos from the crowd, but ultimately decided to leave the rest of the inning to his starter. Cain didn’t disappoint, inducing a fly out from Renfroe, whiffing Austin Hedges on four pitches and getting Jhoulys Chacin to ground out to end the inning.

The 32-year-old tipped his cap to the crowd as he walked off the mound, then tossed it into the stands. He wouldn’t take the win — Wil Myersgame-tying home run took care of that in the sixth — but there was no more fitting footnote to an incredible career.

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.