Mariners “continue to target” free agent Josh Hamilton

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides the following scoop:

The Seattle Mariners, searching for offense, continue to target slugger Josh Hamilton.

The Mariners probably aren’t prepared to meet Hamilton’s request for a seven-year deal, but they seem to have emerged as the likeliest alternative to the incumbent Rangers by virtue of their perceived willingness to go longer than most. Seattle may be amenable to five years, or perhaps even six, though that is fairly speculative and like all the interested teams they have a wariness about going long for Hamilton.

Heyman notes on Twitter that the Yankees are not involved “at this point” and would only consider making an offer to Hamilton if his asking price drops significantly. “Not happening,” Heyman concludes.

The Red Sox have been linked and even met with Hamilton at the Winter Meetings last week in Nashville, Tennessee. But they’ve already committed a total of $78 million to Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli.

So it sounds like it will come down to Seattle and Texas, though the Rangers still have their sights set on a trade for Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. Perhaps a “mystery team” is waiting in the weeds.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.