Kenta Maeda
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Dodgers to move Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling to bullpen

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Right-handers Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are shifting to the bullpen for the time being, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday. The announcement follows news that closer Kenley Jansen is expected to be sidelined through August 20, if not longer, as he monitors an irregular heartbeat. Jansen is just one of half-a-dozen relievers to hit the disabled list over the last two months, making Sunday’s move a necessary one as starting pitchers Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu prepare to retake the mound in the next week or so.

Stripling, 28, should be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Tuesday evening. The righty has seen impressive results in his first All-Star season with the team; he posted an 8-3 record in 17 starts and delivered a combined 2.62 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 through 110 innings out of the rotation and bullpen. Per Roberts’ comments, he’s likely to return to the rotation before the season ends, provided they can bolster the ‘pen with help from other potential starters-turned-relievers like Julio Urias.

Maeda, on the other hand, appears to be headed for a full-time role in relief. The 30-year-old right-hander has had limited exposure in the bullpen this season, pitching to a 7-7 record in 20 starts with a solid 3.80 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 10.7 SO/9 in 109 innings out of the rotation and ‘pen. Still, the decision to convert him to a relief pitcher isn’t a sign of demotion, only a necessary and creative restructuring of a rotation that currently ranks 11th-best in the majors. Maeda will likely be available to pitch by Wednesday’s series finale against the Giants.

Wednesday’s game will also feature southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, who appears ready to resume his role in the rotation after rehabbing a groin strain over the last three months. Prior to his stint on the disabled list, Ryu turned in a 3-0 record in six starts with a sharp 2.12 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 10.9 SO/9 across 29 2/3 innings. He’ll go toe-to-toe with Giants left-hander Derek Holland as the Dodgers close out their homestand.

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.