Mark Cuban out of the running for Dodgers; Joe Torre and Magic Johnson among those still in

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UPDATE: The Steve Garvey-Orel Hershiser group was not selected to advance in the bidding process, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

As for the actual bid amounts, well, let’s just say that Frank McCourt is going to walk away from this process filthy, stinkin’ rich. Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that bidding on the Dodgers is now north of $1.2 billion and counting. Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that McCourt already has one bid in the range of $1.5 billion and speculates that the bidding may jump to $2 billion before this is all over. Either way, the final price tag is expected to blow away the previous record of $845 million when the Ricketts family bought the Cubs from the Tribune Company in 2009.

10:44 PM, Friday: Well, we can cross two big names off the list. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times has learned that the groups led by Mark Cuban and former agent Dennis Gilbert didn’t make it to the second round of the bidding process. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is still in.

Meanwhile, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com hears that Peter O’Malley’s group and the group led by Stanley Gold (who runs the investment firm for the family of the late Roy Disney) have also advanced. O’Malley has reportedly discussed joining forces with Gold’s group.

9:30 PM, Friday: We learned earlier this week that the Dodgers received more than 10 opening bids in advance of Monday’s deadline from those interested in buying the team from Frank McCourt. The opening bids aren’t binding and new bidders could still emerge in the days to come, but we have some early word on who made it through to the next round.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that at least eight groups have advanced, including the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten group, the Joe Torre/Rick Caruso group and the group headed by hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. No word on any others, but it’s safe to say most of the big names are sticking around.

The Dodgers released a statement a little while ago confirming that “the round of preliminary bidding has been completed successfully.” However, they didn’t say who advanced or provide a timeline for the next step.

The embattled McCourt faces an April 30 deadline to sell the team and has agreed to identify the winning bidder by April 1. The sale is expected to fetch an MLB record price tag in excess of $1 billion.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.