Report: Mariners, Orioles targeting Billy Butler


Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star says both the Mariners and Orioles are showing strong interest in Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.

Dutton sees the Mariners as the more likely trade partner, what with their stockpile of arms that includes Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.

The Orioles also have some arms to deal from, such as Zach Britton and Chris Tillman, but their group isn’t quite as attractive as Seattle’s.

Most believe that the Royals will trade for a starter, probably using either Butler or top prospect Wil Myers. It’s doubtful that they’ll part with both.

If the Mariners acquired Butler, it’d seem to alter the plan that currently calls for Jesus Montero to get most of his time at DH next year. Montero could instead split time between catcher and first base and eventually become the regular first baseman if Justin Smoak fails to take a step forward.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.