UPDATE: Marlins the current favorites to land Buehrle

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6:30 p.m. EDT update: CSN Chicago’s Chuck Garfien has the Marlins as the favorites to land Buehrle, a scenario that would reunite the left-hander with his former manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen. The Rangers and Nationals remain in the mix, and a return to the White Sox still hasn’t been ruled out.

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The hot stove is finally starting to heat up.

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, three teams have made substantial three-year offers to free agent left-hander Mark Buehrle and an agreement could happen “quickly this week.”

The Nationals, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Marlins, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Royals, Cardinals and Red Sox have all been linked to the veteran southpaw since free agency began, but Cowley has not been told where exactly the three-year proposals came from.

Buehrle, 32, posted a rock-solid 3.59 ERA in 31 starts this year for the White Sox and boasts a 3.87 ERA over his past seven seasons. He’s topped 200 innings pitched each year since 2001.

Buehrle is said to be demanding a no-trade clause and likely has enough leverage to hold out for one.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.