Astros' Gerrit Cole Listed as Giants Free-agent Option by Jeff Passan

The Giants are starting to see their rotation take shape for the present and future. 

Jeff Samardzija is signed through next season and has a 1.99 ERA over the last two months. Johnny Cueto is set to return from Tommy John surgery and is signed through 2021 with a team option for 2022. Logan Webb, 22, looks like a future ace and should be part of the starting staff for years to come. 

In the coming months, the Giants' front office will turn to free agency. 

The biggest name regarding the Giants and free agency will be Madison Bumgarner, who the team held onto at the trade deadline. But the left-hander is set to hit the open market for the first time this winter. Bumgarner's future in San Francisco will raise a plethora of questions, though he is not the best pitcher who will be a free agent. 

That title belongs to Astros ace Gerrit Cole.

Could Cole be a target for the Giants this offseason? ESPN's Jeff Passan lists the Giants as one of nine teams that are "positioned and motivated to explore adding Cole." The other eight are his current team in the Astros, plus the Yankees, Phillies, Angels, White Sox, Cardinals, Cubs and Braves.

Cole, who turns 29 on Sept. 8, is 15-5 with a 2.75 ERA and has 238 strikeouts through 163 2/3 innings. He's a bona fide star on the mound, ranking near the top of the leaderboards in wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP and opponent's batting average. 

He'll also come with a hefty price tag. 

Cole is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. The right-hander is expected to ask for well over $200 million and could break David Price's record -- $217 million -- for the most expensive contract ever given to a starting pitcher. 

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has never signed off on a giant contract like this in the past, especially with a pitcher. But Zaidi and the Giants did meet extensively with Boras this last offseason and offered his client Bryce Harper a $310 million contract.

[RELATED: How five pitchers Giants traded before deadline are doing]

Cole also has a Giants family connection that can help San Francisco in signing him. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is married to Brandon Crawford's sister, Amy. 

If Zaidi and the Giants don't offer Bumgarner what he wants, they could save that money and give Cole a monster contract to lead the staff and get the Southern California native closer to his family. He's the perfect kind of star the Giants could stay young with while also solidifying themselves as contenders.

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