Red Sox looking at Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse

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The Red Sox are sitting out the Zack Greinke chase and they don’t seem very interested in spending what it would take to land Anibal Sanchez, but they are kicking the tires on Ryan Dempster and Kyle Lohse, according to reports.

WEEI’s Alex Speier writes about the interest in Dempster, who is seeking a three-year deal. Dempster, 35, had a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for the Cubs and then a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last year. His stint with the Rangers was his first in the AL after 15 seasons in the NL.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman has the Red Sox and Angels among the suitors for Lohse, who wants a four- or five-year deal. Lohse, 34, went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA for the Cardinals last season. He was also 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four postseason starts. Lohse has pitched in the NL each of the last six years after opening his career 51-57 with a 4.88 ERA in six years with the Twins.

The Red Sox are also looking at Brandon McCarthy and could well be in the running for Edwin Jackson and Shaun Marcum before all is said and done. They were among the teams that considered Dan Haren, both before he officially became a free agent and afterwards, but according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, they were scared off by his medicals.

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.