Kevin Youkilis is hitting .319 with 18 RBIs in 18 games for the White Sox

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Kevin Youkilis’ return to Boston has so far consisted of four hits in two games, including a homer and two doubles, and the Red Sox castoff is now batting .319 with four homers, a .965 OPS, and 18 RBIs in 18 games since being traded to the White Sox.

It’s early, of course, but he’s basically performing like vintage Youkilis from 2008-2010, hitting for average and power while drawing walks and controlling the strike zone. And the White Sox are 12-6 with him in the lineup.

Meanwhile, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks has hit .191 for Boston since the trade and the Red Sox have already designated for assignment Brent Lillibridge, who’s one of the two marginal players they received in dumping Youkilis.

Toss in David Ortiz potentially missing time with an Achilles’ tendon injury and the idea that Boston’s excessive third base/first base/designated hitter depth made trading Youkilis a must no matter how well he went on to hit and how little they got in return is looking a whole lot more difficult to justify.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.