Trade talks involving Kevin Youkilis are picking up

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According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, trade talks regarding Kevin Youkilis have “intensified” over the past 24 to 48 hours.

While a deal isn’t considered imminent, one high-ranking official with a National League club said that the veteran third baseman is “being shopped everywhere.” The report names the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers, Indians and Pirates among the teams who have expressed interest.

Youkilis is only hitting .215/.301/.341 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .641 OPS through 39 games this season, including his current 1-for-21 (.048) stretch, so the Red Sox certainly aren’t selling high here. With that in mind, they have told teams that they are willing to include cash in order to get a better player in return. The 33-year-old is still owed roughly half of his $12 million salary for this season while his $13 million option for 2013 carries a $1 million buyout.

If Youkilis is moved, rookie Will Middlebrooks would take over the starting third base job in Boston.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.