Manny Machado
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Dodgers clinch postseason berth with 10-6 win over Giants

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The Dodgers are officially headed to the postseason after wrapping up a 10-6 victory over the Giants on Saturday. With the win, they eliminated the Cardinals’ chances of staging a late-season comeback and forcing a one-game tiebreaker, regardless of how Sunday’s games unfold.

With a postseason spot hanging in the balance, Joc Pederson wasted little time getting the Dodgers on the board and skied a home run to right field off of the Giants’ Dereck Rodriguez in the first inning. Yasiel Puig chased it with another solo shot in the second, but the Dodgers’ lead was cut back down to one run after Gorkys Hernandez uncorked an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

The NL West rivals traded blows inning after inning; Joe Panik scored a pair of runs off of another base hit in the third, followed by Enrique Hernandez‘s RBI double and a rare two-run single from Clayton Kershaw in the fourth. By the fifth inning, the two teams were knotted 5-5 after Hunter Pence collected his 11th double of the season and Panik plated the team’s fifth run on a sac fly.

If the Giants had plans to thwart the Dodgers’ postseason hopes, however, they fizzled out in the second half of the game. Kershaw made his exit in the fifth while the bullpen fired scoreless inning after scoreless inning and the Dodgers’ offense continued to rake in runs: a Manny Machado go-ahead triple in the eighth, then a Max Muncy double and a pair of Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger singles in the ninth. While lefty reliever Zac Rossup began to falter in the bottom of the ninth after allowing a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford, he quickly recovered with a strikeout and was bailed out for the remainder of the inning by Kenley Jansen, who permitted Gregor Blanco a final RBI double before wrapping up the win with Alex Hanson’s eight-pitch, game-ending swinging strikeout.

This will mark the Dodgers’ sixth straight appearance in the postseason since 2013, though it remains to be seen whether they’ll tack on a sixth division title as well. They’ll need to sweep the Giants on Sunday and see the Rockies take back-to-back losses on Saturday and Sunday in order to force a tiebreaker for the NL West title. Should the Rockies take first place, the Dodgers will face off against either Cubs or Brewers in the Wild Card Game next week.

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.