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San Francisco Giants: Is Gerrit Cole a legitimate free-agent target?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in game five of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 10, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in game five of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 10, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Upgrading the starting rotation figures to be high up on the San Francisco Giants to-do list this offseason, and Gerrit Cole is the top option on the free-agent market.

The San Francisco Giants need to find some good starting pitching to help bolster a young rotation this offseason.

Gerrit Cole is pretty good.

In fact, the 29-year-old was downright amazing in 2019, going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and an MLB-leading 326 strikeouts against just 48 walks in 212.1 innings over 33 starts. He also held opponents to a lowly .186 batting average on the year.

All of that means that Cole is headed for a humongous payday once the World Series wraps up and free agency begins.

Will San Francisco Giants team president Farhan Zaidi be willing to pay the price?

There will be no shortage of teams vying for Cole’s services this offseason, which could mean a bidding war. The New York Yankees are expected to be among his top suitors, which could drive his asking price into historic territory.

There’s always a risk of decline when it comes to signing a pitcher to a long-term deal, and it could take as many as six or seven years to get Cole to sign on the dotted line.

The Giants have a lot of money coming off the books in the upcoming years, but will they be willing to commit an average annual value in the $30 million neighborhood over that many years when they are still in the process of building back toward contention?

That’s the real question facing Zaidi and the rest of the front office this winter.

While the odds may seem to be stacked against the Giants landing the market’s top pitcher, the team does have an ace in the hole.

Cole’s brother-in-law just so happens to be Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. The concept of family members recruiting each other is not a new concept. Just last winter, the Chicago White Sox acquired Yonder Alonso to help in their pursuit of his brother-in-law, Manny Machado.

Next. Grading each Giants player's 2019 season

At the very least, the San Francisco Giants should be part of the conversation when it comes to the teams making an effort to sign Gerrit Cole. He won’t come cheap, but he would be a game-changing addition to the pitching staff.

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