Dodgers considering bowing out of Zack Greinke sweepstakes

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When the Winter Meetings began, many considered the deep-pocketed Dodgers the heavy favorites to land free agent right-hander Zack Greinke. But now that teams, players and agents have departed Nashville, his future isn’t so clear.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Greinke talks have reached a “critical stage” and the Dodgers are now considering bowing out and moving on to other pursuits. Of course, this could all be part of the negotiation process, but Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti offered a pessimistic analogy when Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles asked him whether the club was on the “doorstep” of signing Greinke.

“We’re not on the front lawn. … We’re barely out of the car at the curb. It’s better than driving around the neighborhood looking for the house. We know where the house is located. We just can’t seem to get out of the car.”

The Rangers would immediately become the favorites to sign Greinke if the Dodgers were to drop out of the bidding, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported earlier this afternoon that the Angels are still in the thick of things, despite trading for Tommy Hanson last week and signing Joe Blanton last night.

Greinke, who turned 29 in October, has a 3.77 ERA over his first nine seasons in the majors. Many have speculated that the bidding could top CC Sabathia’s $161 million commitment for the richest contract ever given to a pitcher.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.