Cliff Lee will listen to offers from Nationals, probably all teams

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It is officially hot stove season and, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, we officially have one of our first ridiculous hot stove items.

In September, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo expressed a desire to pick up a front-end starter this offseason.  Then on Thursday ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer wrote that the Nats are “a potential sleeper in the competition to land” free agent left-hander Cliff Lee.

Now comes the good part.  Or the juicy part.  Or whatever you want to call it.  Ladson heard from a baseball source this weekend that Lee is open to offers from the Nationals and “will listen to what Washington has to say.”  Shocking, right?

It should come as no surprise that Lee, this offseason’s marquee free agent, is going to listen to what any and every MLB team “has to say.” Of course he’s going to leave himself “open” to their offers.  He’s a free agent — free to sign with any club — and he is going to be seeking out the richest contract possible.

The Rangers and Yankees are believed to be the front-runners for his services and both clubs have the resources to get the job done.   Most national media members believe that the southpaw will wind up in pinstripes, but if the Nationals want to drive up his price, more power to ’em.  The Pirates might as well throw in a bid too.  And is that the Royals on Line 2?

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.