Royals seeking “front-line” starter this offseason

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The Royals are pleased with the strides that top position prospects Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez made in 2011. But the Royals also know that they’re going to need an improved starting rotation to reach their organizational goal of competing in 2012, and that the desired upgrade might have to come from an outside source.

Which is why, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the Royals’ front office is beginning to consider all options. Including a potential free agent deal or even a prospect-based trade.

The free agent market for starters this winter will be quite bleak. Or maybe we should call it shallow. CC Sabathia is likely to opt out of his contract in New York, but all signs point to him returning to the Yankees with a slightly fatter wallet. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson will be available, but over half the league will be interested in him and it’s doubtful Kansas City will be able to put together a competitive bid.

Then there’s Edwin Jackson, an impending free agent right-hander currently pitching for the cross-state Cardinals. Dutton says the Royals “figure to make a run” at the 28-year-old and his high-velocity fastball.

A trade is another option. Despite this year’s callups, the Royals’ farm system remains loaded with talent and a Royals official suggested to the Star that prospects Cheslor Cuthbert, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi could be made available. “Now, it has to be the right guy,” cautioned the unnamed exec.

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.